UNAIDS and StarTimes plan to explore collaboration on increasing HIV and AIDS awareness among African youth by use of the mobile online video application – StarTimes App.

Malawi’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika, UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé and StarTimes Group Vice President Guo Ziqi held a meeting under the theme “Value of new media in African HIV and AIDS Prevention Campaign” in Beijing recently.

Research shows that new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are more likely to occur among young people in Africa because HIV and AIDS prevention information and knowledge does not reach young people efficiently.

The UNAIDS executive director says there is urgent need to adress the information gap.

“We have seen progress in most countries today, 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…So, information, knowledge and education, and that’s why StarTimes is very important for us.”

“I just want to say sharing information, bringing knowledge and making sure that we can change young people will be key for ending AIDS.”

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

With smartphone use and internet penetration soaring, Africa is set for a communication way revolution. Similarly in Europe, US and China, more and more African young people, get used to watching stream videos on phones.

“Based on this trend, StarTimes launched its video streaming service in the African market with the StarTimes App in June 2018. Within 3 months, 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.

Ms Guo noted that the StarTimes App is streaming the “Zero Discrimination” public service announcement (PSAs) as a trial cooperation with UNAIDS through the online video platform.

And, Malawian First Lady and former president of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against AIDS OAFLA), Gertrude Mutharika said: “Malawi has significant and rapid growth in the number of mobile phones and subscribers over the last two decades.

The majority of people who buy phone are for using social media communication as well as a source of information. It is for this reason that we revise HIV prevention strategy and seeks to explore social media technology and platforms to reach out to young people.”

“I found that the launch of StarTimes App for HIV prevention is very timely and appropriate. This will greatly enhance our national efforts to reduce HIV infection, particularly on young people. I 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 would be undertaken by StarTimes, and proposed to explore possible ways to help popularize HIV and AIDS prevention information and knowledge in African rural areas with the platform.

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. The Chinese government will aid 10,112 African villages each 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 12th May, 2017 when an MOU was signed in Beijing “to reduce the impact of HIV across Africa by disseminating messages to the general public to increase awareness of HIV and UNAIDS’ work and reduce stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and populations affected by HIV”.

After the establishment of partnership, StarTimes and UNAIDS are boosting their cooperation in different African countries, aiming to mobilizing all available resources to enhance the awareness of HIV and AIDS in the continent.

In the past two years, StarTimes has broadcasted several UNAIDS public service announcements(PSAs) to more than 10 million households with its free to air (FTA) Guide Channel.

Ms Guo said: “With more broadcasting platforms and a bigger and 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.”

Source : Mwebantu

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