Customers at Adult Cinemas in Ivory Coast Getting Lessons on AIDS Prevention
January 28, 2002
The Super Mini Cinema was playing its usual fare, pornographic French videos, in the Ivory Coast town of Daloa one evening when word started to spread to a packed open-air bar across the street. The reason? Someone was giving the cinema clientele a message they weren't used to getting: sex might cost you your life.
"I want to tell them that if they're going to try to do what they do in the films, then they have to protect themselves," said Brou Barthelemi Saoure, a local Red Cross Official. He gave a half-hour presentation on the dangers of AIDS, passed out condoms, played an AIDS education video, and briefly turned an adult theater into a rowdy classroom full of eager listeners.
Red Cross workers have conducted AIDS education campaigns in Ivory Coast for years, from garages to hair salons; any place frequented by the public is usually targeted. Bringing that campaign to adult theaters is new, reaching young people who are likely to leave the theater and hire a prostitute. In Daloa, a crossroads for truck drivers from neighboring Guinea and Liberia, finding a prostitute isn't difficult. Some clients even offer more for condom-free sex.
"People come here to watch pornography and want to go right out and take a prostitute," 20-year-old Kamate Wassi said after watching the presentation. "But it's bad, because in the films, they don't use condoms. People see that and think they can go out and do the same thing."
Getting theater owners' permission to do AIDS education wasn't easy. "At first they refused. They thought it would be bad for business," Saoure said. Some wanted money, but Saoure befriended them instead, sometimes buying them a beer or two. To others, he was blunt. "I told them, if everyone becomes sick, they won't be coming to your video club."
01.20.02; Todd Pitman
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.