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The principal characters of
Takalani Sesame
The South African version of the children’s television show ‘Sesame Street’ — known as 'Takalani Sesame' — is to introduce an ‘upbeat’ HIV-positive female character in a bid to combat the stigmatism that has become one of the main barriers to tackling the disease.

Announcing the move at the 14th International AIDS Conference — which has been taking place in Barcelona, Spain — Joel Schneider, vice-president of the company Sesame Workshop that produces the programme, said that the new character will be fully integrated into the community as portrayed in the programme.

“She will have high esteem,” Schneider is quoted by the news agency Reuters as saying. “Women are often stigmatised about HIV, and we are providing a good role model as to how to deal with one’s situation, and how to interact with the community.”

Schneider added that the character — whose final colour or form has not yet been decided — will travel to some of the other eight countries in which versions of the programme, aimed primarily at 3- to-7-year-olds, is broadcast.

Earlier this year, Sesame Workshop announced a collaborative project with the Centre for Communications Programs at Johns Hopkins University in the United States to help improve the lives of children and those who care for them around the world.

Potential activities that may be included under this agreement include television co-productions, public service announcements, outreach materials and advocacy events. The two partners said at the time that special focus might be placed “on reducing the stigma associated with AIDS, educating HIV/AIDS orphans, and fostering mutual respect and understanding”.

© SciDev.Net 2002

Photo credit: © 2002 Sesame Workshop

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