One of the biggest challenges to combating HIV/ AIDS is lack of education. There remains widespread ignorance and misinformation
surrounding the disease. In communities where stigma and superstitions are still culturally significant, health services struggle to persuade people to take medical support – even when free treatment is available.
S.A.F.E. is successfully addressing some of the assumptions and prejudices that stop people from practising safe sex, getting tested for HIV, or caring compassionately for HIV+ people.
In 2013, S.A.F.E. undertook research to determine what high-risk groups could effectively be reached by a new HIV/AIDS programme, and what gaps in existing provision could be met. We found that although antiretroviral treatment is now readily accessible for most HIV positive Kenyans, emerging trends are putting people – particularly young people and women – at risk.
Recognising that one of the key challenges to overcoming HIV in Kenya is increasing public awareness and education, S.A.F.E. uses a popular, strategic communication tool – mobile, high-quality street theatre – to address the cultural influences, behaviours and choices that underpin the challenge of HIV/AIDS. By delivering HIV education through accessible street theatre and education activities, this model uses S.A.F.E.’s community-based approach to inform and motivate people who may engage in high-risk behaviours. By empowering communities, follow-up education programmes delivered directly by S.A.F.E. and through partner organisations are welcomed and trusted.
In 2015, our HIV/AIDS Projects are:
HIV Prevention and condom distribution in the Loita Hills: SAFE Maa’s HIV/ AIDS programme began in 2006 and, through performance tours, work in schools, community education events and outreach, the team now educate their community about sexual health and HIV/AIDS. In 2014, in addition to delivering community education through theatre, the team started to work in an ongoing way with women’s groups, School Health Clubs and groups of Morans (young male warriors aged 15-23) to discuss HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. SAFE Maa’s Outreach Officers continued to distribute and demonstrate the use of condoms, carrying them in rucksacks to the areas they visited after performances and on roaming outreach sessions.
Starting a new HIV Prevention programme in Coast Province, supported by the Sainsbury’s Family Charitable Trusts. This project will use street theatre and community education to deliver HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment education over the next 2 years to disadvantaged people living in areas of urban and rural poverty in Coast Province. The momentum generated by performances will be capitalised on by providing post-performance activities to build upon the messages in the play, including Q&A sessions and testimonials by inspiring PLWHA.