Sensitising Communities through Collaboration and Popular Media
Embedding behavioural messaging in popular TV and radio programmes is hugely effective in helping sensitise the broader public to complex and controversial issues, such as HIV and populations especially vulnerable to the epidemic. – Roy Wadia, Executive Director, Heroes Project
For a person living with HIV, stigma is an all-encompassing fact of life. At its worst, it comes with overt discrimination and violence. It’s demeaning and unjust, and is a major barrier to effective public action.
That’s why Heroes Project partnered with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (supported by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Avahan Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) on key summits and workshops. We took the lead in creating a collaborative initiative between media, government and NGOs for the empowerment of the marginalised and vulnerable who have to live with the reality of HIV stigma and discrimination.
Through our programme, we formed powerful media partnerships, including Star TV Network and MAA TV, to name just two. We launched effective campaigns with our media partners, embedding – for the first time – compelling and sensitive HIV messaging in some of India’s most popular TV and radio soaps and shows.
For a person living with HIV, stigma is an all-encompassing fact of life.
At its worst, it comes with overt discrimination and violence. It can even compromise access to education, housing and health care, or inhibit participation in community, cultural, religious and family activities. What’s more, such stigma can diminish self-confidence and motivation, foster shame or guilt, and lead to a withdrawal from society.
This fear of alienation and stigmatisation is the number one reason why people avoid visiting a doctor to check if they are HIV positive are infected or seek treatment and care. This creates major barriers to combating the HIV pandemic and providing help to people that are most in need of it.
Heroes Project used its expertise in developing coordinated behavioural change campaigns to mitigate the spread of HIV, and created programmes to empower the marginalised and vulnerable.
To start, we partnered with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, supported by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Avahan Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Before getting a national TV outreach campaign underway, we took a strategic approach by sensitising two influential communities in the entertainment industry: a) the top executives from leading media conglomerates across the country, and b) the creative teams of our media partners – the individuals who develop and control the messages of the show episodes.
We started by planning India’s first Media Leaders’ Summit on HIV in New Delhi, forming a collaborative initiative between media, government and NGOs. Twenty-five top executives from leading national media conglomerates, including representatives from STAR, MTV, NDTV and Sony among others, and dignitaries such as Heroes Project Co-Chairs Ms. Parmeshwar Godrej and Mr. Richard Gere, met with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to pledge their support.
Next, we organized a summit focused on the creative and design teams of the various entertainment channels in Mumbai. For the first time, Heroes Project connected leading producers of international TV shows from South Africa and Hollywood with teams from India to review and discuss the most effective way to bring HIV messaging into existing TV programmes. The format included workshops and panel discussions with renowned media personalities from across the nation.
In addition to building knowledge and understanding amongst a range of important partners, we reached a vast audience across India on a critical social and health issue. For the first time, we placed HIV themes in some of the most popular shows created by the Star TV Network – India’s leading media and entertainment company. These included the Star Plus quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati and soap Sanjeevani, and Star One’s Special Squad and Siddhanth. In all, the campaign generated millions of impressions.
Media summit gallery