NEW YORK, 21 September 2015 - MTV Staying Alive Foundation has partnered with UNICEF and others to continue Shuga into its fourth season, a 360-degree mass media social-change campaign to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people.
Created in partnership with NACA, PEPFAR, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UNFPA, the show uses TV, radio, the internet and social media to spark conversation on difficult topics and keep the conversation going. Fusing public health messaging with world class storytelling and believable characters, Season IV is set in Nigeria and explores a number of HIV-related themes and storylines, with messages that resonate with African adolescents.
Messages about HIV and AIDS prevention are especially crucial in eastern and southern Africa, the heart of the global epidemic.
· AIDS is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa,
· Most adolescents do not know their HIV status, and
· Comprehensive knowledge about HIV remains low – globally, only 26 per cent of girls and 33 per cent of boys (15-19 years old) have a full understanding of how HIV is transmitted.
Partnerships and campaigns like Shuga play a vital role in UNICEF’s efforts to halt and reverse the HIV/AIDS pandemic. When it comes to delivering messages about HIV prevention, UNICEF’s work with media and entertainment partners such as MTV provides a valuable – and credible – connection to young audiences.
Ahead of the premiere, MTV Staying Alive combined casting with concerts and the opportunity to test for HIV – an innovative collaboration between media and service delivery. In the past nine months, 47,000 young people voluntarily tested for HIV as part of this initiative directly supported by UNICEF.
“UNICEF is glad to support Shuga season IV with some funding and technical support in the development of scripts and peer educator training manuals. This has ensured informed messaging around key issues like vulnerabilities, treatment care and support,’’ said Dorothy Mbori-Ngacha, UNICEF Nigeria Chief of HIV and AIDS.
While popular dramas like Shuga will not end the epidemic on their own, they can lead to helpful dialogue about the risks of HIV infection. They can also help to combat the stigma that people living with the virus sometimes face. And, as demonstrated in Nigeria, they can link young people to much needed health services, such as HIV testing.
Initially created in 2009, Shuga was based in Nairobi for the first two seasons and starred a then little known Kenyan actress, Lupita Nyong’o. The third series of Shuga (2013) moved the action to Nigeria, showcasing the creativity of Nigerian writers, directors and actors, engaging authentic Nigerian voices to paint a new picture of the continent on the global stage.
Filmed on location in Lagos earlier this year, MTV Shuga Season IV is scheduled to air on 120 broadcasters across the world, making it the most widely distributed season to date. For the first time, the highly anticipated fourth season will be translated into French and Portuguese language versions, extending the reach of MTV Shuga into Francophone and Lusophone territories.
The series premiered in Lagos and London in early September, and premieres in New York 23 September 2015. UNICEF’s Chief of HIV and AIDS, Craig McClure, will participate in the panel following the launch in New York, together with Ambassador Deborah Birx with the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other guests.
The World Bank is assessing the effectiveness of Shuga in changing behavior within its target audience. Evaluation results are scheduled for release at the end of 2015.