Case Study: HIV Vacuum — HIV Education Despite Ban On Sex Education
Teaching about taboo topics despite the cultural barriers in India
Actress and Social Activist, Amala Akkineni, speaks on TeachAIDS
Celebrated Indian Cultural Icon, Nagarjuna Akkineni, speaks on TeachAIDS
Indian Actress, Anushka Shetty, speaks on TeachAIDS

India has the third largest HIV-positive population in the world, yet sex education has been banned across multiple states. Since AIDS education is typically taught as part of sex education, it is often watered down or not given. Similar issues are apparent throughout the developing world, where 95 percent of all HIV-positive individuals live. Hence, despite the millions of dollars spent on prevention efforts, a significant lack of knowledge, stigma, and misconceptions about HIV and AIDS persist.

The TeachAIDS software is designed for this situation in that it successfully decouples AIDS education from sex education through a biology-based approach. Using a research-based process, TeachAIDS has found a solution that, for the first time, allows individuals to access life-saving information, even in areas where AIDS education is taboo or disallowed.

In India, despite the bans and stigma, the TeachAIDS software is being used in many states. In Andhra Pradesh (pop. ~80MM), the state distributed 25,000 copies of the Telugu and English versions into schools and counseling centers. In commemoration of World AIDS Day, major televisions stations, including Doordarshan and MAA TV, have aired the video version of TeachAIDS, reaching millions of viewers. In Karnataka (pop. ~52MM), officials have formally approved the TeachAIDS content as suitable – a first in their history – and will distribute the Kannada version across more than 5,500 government secondary schools in the state.

TeachAIDS plans to use the same research-based process to develop several more Indian language versions to impact a total of 800 million people in the country. A number of cultural icons have already donated their voices toward the special language versions, including Shabana Azmi, Nagarjuna Akkineni, Amol Palekar, Suriya, Sudeep, Anushka Shetty, Shruti Haasan, and Imran Khan, among others.

When I first learned about this research-driven approach, it was clear that using animated characters was an innovative way to communicate simple biological concepts around virus transfer to people of all ages. I am proud to be part of the TeachAIDS movement and am confident that many people around the world will benefit from their tireless efforts.

Shabana Azmi
UN Goodwill Ambassador and Former Indian Parliamentarian

It was only three years ago that HIV-positive children were expelled from schools here due to extreme stigma and the lack of HIV/AIDS knowledge. Thanks to TeachAIDS we finally have a powerful, and yet acceptable, way to teach about the basics of HIV transmission. The animations are so comfortable that they’ve even been shown on multiple television channels.

Mondira Jaisimha
Senior Advocacy Director, Heroes AIDS Project