Though HIV prevalence is not as high in Zanzibar as in other areas of Tanzania, stigma there is rampant. This UNICEF article, quoting the 2007-2008 Tanzania HIV and Malaria Indicator Survey, indicates that “51 per cent of women and 41 per cent of men would keep it a secret that a family member is infected with the HIV virus.”
UNICEF and ZAPHA+ (Zanzibar Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS) work to combat this stigma and encourage people to get tested. ZAPHA+ provides workshops and counseling for young people living with HIV to help reduce stigma in their communities and help them cope with emotional and health issues. Children living with HIV are empowered to tell their own stories and build strategies to change attitudes.
The model of storytelling was effective this week during a 7-day Young Journalists Workshop at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) Children’s Panorama, where 24 children who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS had an opportunity to share their experiences and wrote a newsletter that was sent to other schoolchildren in Unguja and Pemba.