Ethiopia: People Living with HIV/AIDS Speak to the Nation (April 2007)


"When Tizita discovered her husband's notebooks, she wasn't expecting them to change her life. As she leafed through them she was shocked to find that he was HIV-positive. Page after page, he agonized over how to tell her, but until now he had kept silent," the radio rang out.

This account, which sounds like the plot of a drama serial, is actually the true experience of one of Ethiopia's HIV-positive radio diarists. Broadcast on national radio, the series gives millions of Ethiopians a chance to hear about the real-life experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS. On the show, six HIV-positive people talk about their lives openly during weekly installments.

PEPFAR supports this initiative by providing training in radio programming. "What strikes me most is just how powerful the stories of the diarists have been," advisor Jim Clarke said. "When we first got involved, I was a little worried that they might not have very much to say. But now I find the problem is that we get too much good material rather than not enough."

In addition to empowering HIV-positive people to tell their stories, this unique program - and the courage of the people featured on it - is breaking down the barriers of stigma and discrimination in both large and small communities throughout Ethiopia. These people no longer hide their status in shame, but work to educate others about the importance of preventing HIV.


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