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It is with great joy that we announce the release of the Tibetan language HIV education materials in time for the auspicious occasion of Losar or Tibetan New Year. These materials are the result of an intensive collaboration with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and several other committed partners. The animations are now available online for free and will be distributed to Tibetan schools, universities and health care facilities as soon as this month.

In 2015, HIV was identified by the CTA as a growing threat to Tibetans around the world and a priority for the Tibetan Department of Health . Recognizing that education is the key to prevention, Health Kalon Dr. Tsering Wangchuk approached TeachAIDS and requested assistance in developing culturally appropriate and linguistically accessible HIV education materials.

The animated education materials feature the universally respected Dr. Tsetan Dorji Sadutshang, personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Chief Medical Officer of the prestigious Delek Hospital as a wise doctor; and beloved singer and songwriter Phurbu T. Namgyal as an inquisitive student with many concerns about HIV transmission. During the research and testing phases, both cultural icons were identified as highly influential and deeply respected amongst the Tibetan community worldwide. Despite their intense work and travel schedules, both Dr. Sadutshang and Mr. Namgyal made huge efforts to devote significant time over months of work towards the development and high quality production of these animations.

Dr. Sadutshang cited His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s globally renowned kindness as his inspiration for becoming involved with TeachAIDS. He noted, “it’s about a universal responsibility that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always been talking about and that’s just not about taking care of only yourself, but taking care of everyone else around you, including all living beings, your environment and the entire universe. Be kind to others and help anyone you can.” Phurbu T. Namgyal echoed these sentiments, reflecting that there has been a “need for social leaders to propel efforts to protect Tibetans from HIV”.  Namgyal went on to say that “these education materials will be extremely beneficial for my people, especially those inside Tibet”, and added, “I am so happy to be a part of it!”

Sikyong (Prime Minister) Lobsang Sangay offered an impassioned Message of Hope to accompany these materials, reflecting on the lessons learned in the 34 years since HIV was identified and reminding Tibetans that “there is no cure for HIV and AIDS but it is preventable. We have learned that the single best way to stop the spread of HIV is through education”.

Health Kalon Dr. Tsering Wangchuk complemented this message with an inspiring Call to Action urging Tibetans to learn to protect themselves and their loved ones and to treat people living with HIV with kindness, respect and dignity. The TeachAIDS materials have also been graciously supported by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who commended the compassion that guides the development of the HIV education software.

TeachAIDS has been overjoyed with the support we have received from the Tibetan community. Along with respected politicians, renowned medical personnel and cultural icons, we have received generous assistance from teachers, students, monastery staff and many experts from the Health Department at the Central Tibetan Administration. The development of these materials has truly been a remarkable demonstration of the strength and unity of the Tibetan community, and we are humbled to have been a part of this effort.

We encourage Tibetans around the world to watch these materials and learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from HIV. In addition to being available for free on the TeachAIDS website, the animations will be shown on Tibet Online TV numerous times between February 5th through the 15th.
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“There is no cure for HIV and AIDS but it is preventable. We have learned that the single best way to stop the spread of HIV is through education”- Dr. Lobsang Sangay.

The Honorable Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Sikyong (Prime Minister) of Tibet, has graciously offered a Message of Hope in English and Tibetan to be incorporated into the Tibetan language version of the TeachAIDS HIV animations. During this short video, Prime Minister Sangay reflects on the lessons learned over the 34 years since HIV was first identified. He notes that while many lives have been lost, Tibetans “can now look forward, not backward,” armed with more knowledge than ever before.

Prime Minister Sangay was elected to the post of Sikyong in 2011. As the political successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Prime Minister Sangay is an internationally respected advocate for nonviolent resolution of oppression. In transferring the role of political leadership of Tibet to Prime Minister Sangay, His Holiness the Dalai Lama noted that “When I was young, an elderly regent Takdrag Rinpoche handed over Sikyong to me, and today I am handing over Sikyong to young Lobsang Sangay… In doing this I have fulfilled my long-cherished goal.”

Born in a Tibetan settlement near Darjeerling, India, Prime Minister Sangay holds dual Bachelor degrees in English Literature and Law from Delhi University. As a Fulbright Scholar, he received Master's and Doctorate degrees in Law from Harvard University. Widely recognized as a world expert on international human rights law and democratic constitutionalism, Prime Minister Sangay has spoken at hundreds of seminars and won a number of prestigious international awards. He was the recipient of the Leadership Award from Regional New England Amnesty International and the Peace and Justice Award from the Peace Commission of City of Cambridge. In addition, he was recognized with the Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse by the College Historical Society of Trinity College, Dublin; and recently received the 2015 Salisbury University Presidential Medal for Distinguished Community Leadership.

During his tenure as Sikyong, Prime Minister Sangay has sought to unify the Tibetan diaspora and promote strategic nonviolent resistance. A firm believer that the future of the Tibetan population is in the hands of today’s youth, Prime Minister Sangay has implemented broad policies for equitable, high-quality education and health care, as well as strategies to promote youth empowerment.

In furtherance of his commitment to the future of Tibet, Prime Minister Sangay is dedicated to ensuring that all Tibetans have access to high quality HIV education materials, including the “remarkable tools” developed by TeachAIDS “designed for the Tibetan people and Tibetan children”. Prime Minister Sangay appeals to Tibetans to educate themselves about HIV and “ so that our children, your son and daughter, your nephews and niece will be… a healthy Tibetan”.

In addition to the generous support they have offered TeachAIDS in the development of the Tibetan language HIV education materials, Prime Minister Sangay’s administration has agreed to distribute more than 10,000 copies of the Tibetan language software to clinics, schools and hospitals in Tibetan communities throughout India, Nepal and Bhutan, as well as inside of Tibet. We thank Prime Minister Sangay for his personal dedication to HIV prevention and for mobilizing support from his office to make this initiative a reality. Together, we will make high quality health education available to millions of Tibetans around the world.
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“We Tibetans are strong, united and resourceful people. We tireless resist the many threats to our language, culture and heritage, and strive to create a harmonious and peaceful community. One threat for which we haven’t, until now, had the tools to resist is the growing risk of HIV in our community. There is no cure, but with the right knowledge we can prevent HIV.” - Dr. Tsering Wangchuk.

With the TeachAIDS Tibetan language HIV education animations set to be released in time for the Tibetan New Year (Losar), Dr. Tsering Wangchuk, Health Kalon (Minister) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) delivers a special “Call to Action” in English and Tibetan encouraging Tibetans around the world to learn from the TeachAIDS materials and share this critical knowledge with their loved ones. Warning that HIV can “ravage families, communities and nations,” Dr. Wangchuk proclaims that “preventing the spread of this disease is among the most important actions we can take to ensure that the Tibetan people remain strong and resilient. This is an urgent imperative in protecting our community and a necessary step in preserving our community”.

Dr. Wangchuk has served as Health Kalon since 2011, prior to which he was a respected practicing doctor in Tibetan settlement health centers in the Indian states of Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka. Unanimously approved for the position of Health Kalon by the Tibetan parliament, Dr. Wangchuk is the youngest person to serve in Sikyong (Prime Minister) Dr. Lobsang Sangay’s first Kashag (cabinet), and the first medical doctor to serve as Kalon in the CTA.

Throughout his tenure as Health Kalon, Dr. Wangchuk has been concerned about the rising HIV rates in Tibetan communities around the world. Citing alarming statistics that show a sharp increase in new reports of HIV in recent years and “a serious lack of localized HIV education materials available to educate the population,” After much research, Dr. Wangchuk reached out to TeachAIDS in to request urgent assistance through a partnership between TeachAIDS and the CTA.

In addition to his concerns about the rising incidence of HIV, Dr. Wangchuk noted that the cultural stigmas and sensitivities associated with HIV amongst Tibetans had led to “stigma and fear” and the ostracization of people living with HIV. In his Call to Action video message, Dr. Wangchuk urges Tibetans to draw on the compassion that underscores the Tibetan culture, noting that “treating people living with HIV with care and respect is paramount. We are a dignified people, and HIV and AIDS must not change the way we relate to one another.”

As the head of the Central Tibetan Administration’s Health Department, Dr. Wangchuk and his staff are dedicated to improving health care and access for Tibetan communities both inside and outside of Tibet. Along with Sikyong Sangay and other members of the Kashag, Dr. Wangchuk launched the Tibetan Medicare System in 2012 to provide comprehensive healthcare to exiled Tibetans living in the Indian subcontinent. He has also conducted extensive public health awareness campaigns on hygiene and sanitation; hepatitis B; tuberculosis and reproductive health.

Dr. Wangchuk’s dedication to empowering the people of Tibet to protect themselves from HIV has been evident from the moment he first contacted TeachAIDS and is manifest in his commitment to distributing more than 10,000 copies of these materials to schools, universities and health clinics.

We are grateful for the generous support Dr. Wangchuk and his staff extended throughout the development of the Tibetan language HIV education materials, and we join him in encouraging Tibetans around the world to “watch the video. Interact with the software. Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones.... Talk to your friends, your siblings, your parents and your neighbors about HIV… Together, we can stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.”

TeachAIDS HIV education materials are being used across sectors and around the world to educate people of diverse backgrounds about HIV and AIDS. Beyond schools, orphanages, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, businesses and corporations are integrating the TeachAIDS animations into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

One such corporation is Mahindra & Mahindra, a multinational manufacturing company headquartered in Mumbai. As part of its commitment to social responsibility, the corporation is engaged in projects related to education, healthcare access and rural technology, and has chosen to target HIV and AIDS with its outreach.

Mahindra identified a lack of awareness about HIV and AIDS as a major problem in many of the rural communities in which the Automotive and Farm Sector of the Group has manufacturing plants. Mr. Anirban Ghosh, Vice President –Sustainability, CSR and Ethics, notes that “when considering how to best serve the health needs of the communities we work with, we realized that rates of HIV were alarmingly high in many areas and awareness of how to prevent this condition remained limited. It was clear that integrating HIV education into our CSR programs would yield important, meaningful results”.  In an effort to combat this issue, Mahindra generously invested $300,000 to support the development of additional TeachAIDS animations for the Indian context, and began to integrate TeachAIDS into their CSR initiatives.

In commemoration of World AIDS Day the corporation has conducted awareness sessions about HIV for citizens across several Indian states since 2014.  Designed to “inculcate knowledge and awareness about HIV and AIDS and enable the community to lead a healthy and dignified life”, each session features a screening of TeachAIDS animations in the language most appropriate for the population and is targeted towards siteworkers, students, adolescents and/or migrant workers. In a number of locations around the country, the TeachAIDS materials were also used to spread AIDS awareness to truck drivers, a well-known high risk group in India.

In addition to interacting with the TeachAIDS animations, participants of the education program had the opportunity to attend talks with physicians and healthcare experts and received informative printed materials. In each location, the awareness program took on a local flavor to ensure that the educational efforts were highly targeted to the local population. For example, in Maharashtra an awareness rally accompanied the screening of the TeachAIDS materials; while in Gujarat, each person on the Mahindra campus was provided with an AIDS symbol to wear and asked to take an oath to protect themselves and their loved ones from HIV.

These efforts brought TeachAIDS HIV education materials to thousands of Mahindra employees, truck drivers, students, and villagers. Mr. Ghosh believes that, “the impactful communication tools developed by TeachAIDS helped to provide highly effective HIV education and raise knowledge levels around this devastating condition. We are proud of these efforts and plan to replicate them at scale for many years to come”.

TeachAIDS is delighted to welcome Mahindra to an ever-growing list of corporations that use our materials as part of their corporate social responsibility. Contributing to the health and well-being of the communities in which we live and work is the responsibility of every individual and organization, and we applaud Mahindra’s dedication to providing this critical education to the communities in which they work.

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The end of 2015 marks the realization of a dream.

When we founded TeachAIDS, India was one of our top target countries. With its vast population and diverse set of languages, the odds were stacked against us, and made more difficult by the taboo nature of HIV across the nation. So taboo that previous attempts at educating the masses had been banned and people were arrested for propagating “explicit materials”.

This year, TeachAIDS has completed its nationwide rollout in India. With the support of 22 Indian celebrities, 14 versions of our software (in 7 languages) are now being actively distributed and used to educate children and reach the last mile. Here are some of our accomplishments, from December 2015 alone:

This marks the end of our proactive HIV prevention work in India. Thank you to the hundreds of people who worked thousands of hours to bring this education to the forefront.