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UNAIDS and StarTimes to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among young Africans with mobile app

By Abu Bakarr Kargbo (People's Daily Online)    10:52, September 04, 2018

StarTimes Group Vice President Guo Ziqi, Malawi Gertrude Mutharika, and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.

UNAIDS and StarTimes discuss ways to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among young Africans with an online mobile video application, during a meeting held by First Lady of the Republic of Malawi Gertrude Mutharika, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and StarTimes Group Vice President Guo Ziqi, with the theme of “Value of New Media in African HIV/AIDS Prevention Campaign” in Beijing on Monday, Sept 3, 2018.

Today, HIV and AIDS-related deaths are more likely to affect young people in Africa as they don't have efficient access to HIV/AIDS prevention information and knowledge. Engaging a greater number of young people in prevention methods has been an urgent issue for global HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns in recent years.

Michel Sidibé explained during the meeting, “We have seen progress in most countries, but the biggest challenge that we face is complacency. The young people, they don’t have information, they don’t have knowledge, so they don’t protect themselves. They need information, knowledge and education, and that’s why StarTimes is very important for us.”

“Sharing information, bringing knowledge and making sure that we can change the way young people think are key for ending AIDS," he added.

Sidibé noted that in most African countries, 70 percent of the population are below the age of 35, and they are not getting relevant information. “Our recent approach will completely change the situation and help us strive for a generation free of AIDS.”

With smartphone and internet use soaring, Africa is set for a communication revolution. As has been seen across Europe, the U.S. and China, more and more young Africans are streaming content on their mobile phones.

“Based on this trend, StarTimes launched its video streaming service in the African market with the StarTimes App in June. Within three months, the StarTimes App has had 8 million downloads and the figure is expected to reach 15 million by the end of this year,” said Guo Ziqi, noting that the StarTimes App is currently streaming a “Zero Discrimination” public service announcement as a trial collaboration with UNAIDS through the online video platform.

Malawian First Lady and former president of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against AIDS, Gertrude Mutharika said, “Malawi has seen significant and rapid growth in the number of mobile phones and subscribers over the last two decades. The majority of people who buy phones are using them for social media communication as well as a source of information. It is for this reason that we are revising our HIV prevention strategy and seek to explore social media technology and platforms to reach out to young people.”

“The launch of the StarTimes App for HIV prevention is very timely and appropriate. This will greatly enhance our national efforts to reduce HIV infection, particularly when it comes to young people. I am looking forward to working closely with StarTimes and UNAIDS in Malawi,” she remarked.

During the meeting, Guo introduced the China-Africa Cooperation project, “Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages,” which will be undertaken by StarTimes, and proposed the exploration of possible ways to help popularize HIV/AIDS prevention information and knowledge in rural areas of Africa.

The project of “Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages” was first announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2015. Chinese government will aid 10,112 African villages with two StarTimes Projector TVs, one 32 inch Digital TV set and 20 DTH decoders and satellite dishes.

UNAIDS and StarTimes formally established partnership on May 12, 2017, signing a Memorandum of Understanding in Beijing "to reduce the impact of HIV across Africa by disseminating messages to the general public to increase awareness of HIV and UNAIDS and reduce stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and populations affected by HIV.”

As partners, StarTimes and UNAIDS are boosting their cooperation in different African countries, aiming to mobilize all available resources to enhance the awareness of HIV/AIDS on the continent.

Over the past two years, StarTimes has broadcasted several UNAIDS public service announcements to more than 10 million households using its free channel, Guide Channel.

Guo said: “With more broadcasting platforms and a bigger and more diversified subscriber base and richer content, we will be able to make the best of all our resources to help end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.” 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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