BENIN / HIV (IWD)

08-Mar-2012 00:03:07
At 1.2 per cent, HIV prevalence in Benin is one of the lowest in Africa but the entrenched stigma against people living with HIV has prompted UNICEF and the government to find innovative ways to combat the disease and support those affected by it. Women are often not empowered to refuse sex or demand protection and many are subjected to sexual exploitation or violence that can increase their vulnerability to the disease. Today is International Women's Day. UNICEF
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STORY: BENIN / HIV
TRT: 3.07
SOURCE: UNICE
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGES: ENGLISH / FRENCH / NATS

DATELINE: 1 -7 FEBRUARY 2012, BENIN

SHOTLIST

1. Close up, Leonie crying
2. Med shot, Leonie rubbing her eyes
3. SOUNDBITE (French) Leonie Sossou, 22 years old:
“People are terrified of it. If I tell someone, I could be rejected. They could say I have an illness that they could catch, So that’s why I don’t tell anyone around.”
4. Close up, Jean’s eyes
5. Close up, hands
6. Close up, feet
7. Med shot, Jean turning to the side
8. Med shot, Jean and mother with teddy
9. Med shot, part of Leonie’s face
10. Close up, Jean
11. Wide shot, Leonie her mother and Jean sitting under a tree
12. SOUNDBITE (English)Tharcienne Ndihokubwayo UNICEF HIV/Aids specialist (ENGLISH):
“People are not aware of the consequence of HIV and that makes that the stigma is still there, specifically for women.”
13. Close up, Marie on Motorbike
14. Wide shot, Marie driving Motorbike
15. Wide shot, Marie driving away on bike
16. Wide shot, Marie greeting Leonie
17. SOUNDBITE (French) Marie Bagri, Community Health Extension Worker
“With her it has been fairly easy. With others it’s more complicated. Once you have been to see them once or twice they’ll tell you ‘’don’t come back to my place. Questions are being asked like why does that lady come to your place’. Others don’t even want their husbands to know.”
18. Wide shot, grain silo
19. Wide shot, woman drying seeds on mat
20. Wide shot, Sophie holding dry blood spot test
21. Med shot, Sophie putting clean dry blood spot test into plastic leaf
22. SOUNDBITE (French) Sophie Tafeti, laboratory engineer, Abomey:
“If you say to the woman ‘come to my testing centre I am going to take a sample’. She’ll say, what am I going to say to my husband before leaving? but if you use the Dry Blood Spot you can quickly let her go and you spare her the problem of having to leave her village to travel to a laboratory. She won’t find herself with any explaining to do to her family.”
23. Wide shot, Sign of School
24. Med shot, children playing STOP SIDA board game
25. SOUNDBITE (French) Maxime Gnacadja Principal, Zado-Gagbé Primary school:
“When the children play this game - while they are having fun, they say things like ‘Don’t do that or you’ll get Aids’. So they are sensitized, made alert, motivated. They know that Aids exists, they realize it’s important to be careful.’’
26. Wide shot, Leonie sitting with jean on mat
27. Close up, Leonie playing with jean
28. Close up, Leonie
29. SOUNDBITE (French) Leonie Sossou:
“I’ll tell him when he is old enough to keep the secret. I’m not sure how he will react”
30. Various shots, Leonie and Jean


STORYLINE:

The burden of the secret sometimes gets too much.

A few months into her pregnancy, this young woman learnt that she is HIV positive.

SOUNDBITE (French) Leonie Sossou, 22 years old:
“People are terrified of it. If I tell someone, I could be rejected. They could say I have an illness that they could catch, So that’s why I don’t tell anyone around.”

Thanks to a course of anti-retroviral drugs during her pregnancy and while she was in labour, Jean was born HIV negative. Seven months on, Leonie is in good health.

They are fortunate to have a supportive family. But their situation is not typical in Benin. Stigma is typical in this country which has an HIV prevalence rate of just 1.2 percent.

SOUNDBITE (English) Tharcienne Ndihokubwayo UNICEF HIV/Aids specialist:
“Benin has a low cero prevalence, less than 1 percent, little higher among women than men, 1.5 percent among women and 0.8 among men and that low cero prevalence make that the stigma. People are not aware of the consequence of HIV and that makes that the stigma is still there, specifically for women.”

The complexity of the situation means the government of Benin and UNICEF have to find innovative ways to combat the virus and support those affected by it.

Community health workers like Marie Bagri are often the first point of call for those who are HIV positive. Today she pays a visit to Leonie. Discretion is key.

SOUNDBITE (French) Marie Bagri, Community Health Extension Worker:
“With her it has been fairly easy. With others its more complicated. Once you have been to see them once or twice they’ll tell you ‘’don’t come back to my place. Questions are being asked like why does that lady come to your place’. Others don’t even want their husbands to know.”

In the rural areas which make up most of Benin, a piece of paper with five circles known as a Dry Blood Spot test is all it takes for a midwife to test for HIV.

It’s simple and discreet and the blood on the card can withstand long journeys in the heat to the nearest laboratory.

SOUNDBITE (French) Sophie Tafeti, laboratory engineer, Abomey:
“If you say to the woman ‘come to my testing centre I am going to take a sample’. She’ll say, what am I going to say to my husband before leaving? but if you use the Dry Blood Spot you can quickly let her go and you spare her the problem of having to leave her village to travel to a laboratory. She won’t find herself with any explaining to do to her family.”

Education is key to addressing the stigma associated with HIV and curbing its further spread. That’s why the government and UNICEF launched the Stop AIDS board game in schools.

SOUNDBITE (French) Maxime Gnacadja Principal, Zado-Gagbé Primary school:
“When the children play this game - while they are having fun, they say things like ‘Don’t do that or you’ll get Aids’. So they are sensitised, made alert, motivated. They know that Aids exists, they realise it’s important to be careful.’’

Leonie lovingly tends to her son. He can look forward to a happy, healthy HIV-free life. But one day he will have to face the reality that his mother is HIV positive.

SOUNDBITE (French) Leonie Sossou:
“I’ll tell him when he is old enough to keep the secret. I’m not sure how he will react”

Perhaps by then, thanks to efforts to reduce the stigma around HIV in Benin, it won’t matter so much what the neighbours think.
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