AIDS support group gives positive people a new lease on life

| April 13, 2020

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Like this week’s Farmer story from Mali, our Script of the week (from 2011) focuses on how diet and nutrition can help people with chronic diseases stay healthy.

In spite of vigorous campaigns to contain the epidemic and the fact that HIV and AIDS are no longer in the headlines every day, the HIV virus continues to affect millions of Africans. Donor support has made it possible for antiretroviral therapy (ARV) to be available freely to HIV-infected people. But the success of ARV therapy depends on good nutrition, which is elusive for a large number of people in Zambia. Consequently, in the early days, free monthly rations of high energy protein supplements (HEPS) were given to all people in the country living with HIV and AIDS.

The result was that, although the fight against HIV and AIDS was not being won, more HIV-positive people were living longer, thereby relieving hospitals of precious bed-space while adversely affecting the undertaker’s business.

Unfortunately, the HEPS program lost donor support and availability became erratic and inadequate, with dire consequences for those infected with HIV, especially the rural poor.

Many HIV-positive people in Zambia have come together and formed support groups to ease the burden of HIV and AIDS. These groups have volunteers who visit their more seriously afflicted members to clean their homes, wash their clothes, and encourage them to take anti-retroviral drugs according to their doctor’s prescription. Zithandize is one such support group in one of the poorer compounds of Chipata, the administrative headquarters of the Eastern Province of Zambia. However, in addition to the usual role of the support groups, Zithandize has embarked on a program to make good nutrition available to its members by encouraging them to grow soybeans, which are the main ingredient in HEPS.

This script is a drama based on actual interviews. It can be used as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.