Claims of anti-retroviral abuse

National, Normal

The National- Monday, February 7, 2011

 THERE are claims that the supply of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for HIV/AIDS is contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities.

Visual researcher Joys Eggins and youths from Ruti village in the Dei district, Western Highlands, were screening a film in a nearby village, Kenemba, as part of an awareness drive on the epidemic when they recorded this response.

“The youths had encouraged the community to engage in dialogue when one viewer firmly objected to the continued distribution of the vital drug,” Eggins said.

The villager, and others present, agreed that ART made people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) look healthy and some were knowingly passing the virus to  people.

But Eggins said a decision to stop ART would affect those who did not abuse the drug and a workforce that relied on ART, “in-spite of this, what has been said is a community level response and requires critical debate”.

The community also showed interest in the  film as it was acted by local youths, using the Melpa language and telling the story of an unfaithful husband.

At an earlier screening in Kotna village, villagers discussed with the youths the issue of married women being vulnerable to HIV due to the difficulties of negotiating if they should have sex or not with their husbands if the husbands were suspected of being unfaithful.

A female viewer said she was curious and wanted help on how to discuss sex, faithfulness and the effects of promiscuity with husbands who leave their families for long periods of time.

Eggins said the youths saw this as a potential theme for a new film to educate communities.

In reflection of their community screenings, the Ruti youths talked about what film they could create, using their knowledge of cultural norms, to give women options of talking about sex with their husbands.

Their initial film titled Mangona Mululg Kit Murum depicted a broken home created as a part of the Komuniti Tok Piksa project, which looks at involving local perspectives in HIV/AIDS awareness using films, reflection and dialogue.

Copies of the film were distributed by the youths to other communities in the district.