In South Africa First, Soap Diva to Get Full-Blown AIDS
July 7, 2006
Nandipha Matabane, a character on the South African soap opera "Isidingo," has been diagnosed HIV-positive and is developing AIDS. The show's producers hope the storyline will help break the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in a country where one out of nine people are HIV-positive.
"There is a sense in many ways AIDS has gone off the boil in its public profile and how seriously people take it," said Greg Coetzee, the series' head writer. "People either ignore it, or have a fatalistic approach. We want to show that people can live with AIDS and manage it, even if they are sick."
"Isidingo" is one of the highest-rated South African soap operas and the first to feature an HIV/AIDS plotline. The disease has previously been featured in nighttime TV dramas. HIV/AIDS infects an estimated 5 million of South Africa's 45 million people.
"Isidingo" is broadcast to more than 1 million viewers per day on the SABC public network. "Nandipha's progression from being HIV-positive to having full-blown AIDS will be a shocking but welcome change to the storyline," according to an editorial in The Sowetan.
Media analysts said Isidingo could have an important impact on AIDS awareness in South Africa, where activists say the government downplays the epidemic, and very few public figures have acknowledged having HIV.
07.06.2006; Andrew Quinn
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.