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Immersive film seeks to end HIV stigma

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HIV is no longer the death sentence it used to be. With early diagnosis and treatment, people infected with the virus can now live long and relatively normal lives, and can avoid passing it to their children through pregnancy or breastfeeding. Access to free antiretroviral treatment remains far from universal — only half of those who need it get treatment — but it is improving.
 
But the idea of HIV as a death sentence persists, with devastating effect, as filmmaker Tom Gibb explains in this interview for today’s World AIDS Day. Gibb makes films for the Medical Research Council and World Health Organization that aim to make health research in Sub-Saharan Africa accessible to medics, policymakers and funders. 
 
Another strand of his filmmaking explores how interactive drama workshops and film screenings help reduce HIV stigma and change behaviour among rural people in Malawi and Zimbabwe, as he explains here. Gibb has also teamed up with Together as One, a Harare-based youth group, to test out a filmmaking technique that aims to immerse viewers in the experiences of a young woman in Zimbabwe living with HIV. The resulting film, Chiedza’s Song — Growing up with HIV in Zimbabwe, has its UK premiere this evening at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

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