A new series of videos from the sexual health organisation have launched in a bid to end HIV stigma on black African communities
Today, Terrence Higgins Trust, Britain’s leading HIV and sexual health organisation, has launched a new initiative to tackle this issue.
#TheirStoryYourChoice is a series of short, engaging and interactive films that challenges the viewers’ understanding of HIV. These are funded by Comic Relief and the MAC AIDS Fund, as part of the HIV in the UK: Think Digital initiative.
The stories of the chracters Mary and Thomas have been drawn from the real life experiences of black African people living with HIV in the UK.
At the end of each scene viewers will make choices for the characters as they navigate dilemmas such as:
· When is the right time to tell someone you have HIV?
· When should you get tested for HIV?
· What do you do when you find out your partner has HIV?
Viewers will then be provided with supporting information, encouraged to join discussions on social media, post questions to the charity in confidence or take an HIV test (including the option to order a free HIV self test from Terrence Higgins Trust).
To create the films, Terrence Higgins Trust and the production company engaged people living with HIV from black African communities throughout the process, using focus groups and via consultancy involvement of HIV activist Bakita Kasadha who is living with HIV. African people not living with HIV were also consulted.
The films feature a range of black actors including Patrick Robinson and Dominque Moore who have both featured in TV drama series such as Casualty and The Bill.
Although Public Health England (2017) found that new diagnoses of black African heterosexual men and women have continued to decline, as a whole 58% of black Africans receive late diagnosis when diagnosed.
Bakita Kasadha, HIV activist and writer said: “The stories are very real and they are very human. I chose to be involved in this film project because it speaks truth to the everyday experiences of black people living with HIV.
“These stories will be met with a range of reactions and emotions, but most importantly I hope that you’ll learn something new and that you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There are lessons to be learned on all sides, whether you know your HIV status (and you are HIV+ or negative) or do not know your HIV status yet.”
Takudzwa Mukiwa, Terrence Higgins Trust added: “Unfortunately, HIV stigma remains high in black African communities in the UK resulting in people being reluctant to have open conversations about it or even getting tested.
“‘Their Story, Your Choice’ will hopefully encourage more conversation on HIV, allowing people to have a deeper understanding of HIV, both from a medical and human perspective.
“We have made these films interactive so that the viewers don’t just observe what happens but are active participants in how the stories unfold.”