Actors, writers and producers of dramatic TV series broadcast around the world will be joined by international business, media and public health leaders in New York November 18 to set the course for one of the most innovative and potentially powerful HIV/AIDS initiatives.
Organized by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Population Communications International, the unprecedented gathering will examine the use of entertainment programs to affect critical behavioral changes among populations at greatest risk for HIV/AIDS and result in new partnerships for utilizing entertainment in the struggle against the AIDS pandemic.
The Entertainment/AIDS Summit will be keynoted by United Nations Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis. Ambassador Lewis, whose role takes him to the epicenter of the AIDS pandemic, has characterized it as mass murder by complacency. The time for polite, even agitated entreaties is over, commented Ambassador Lewis. This pandemic cannot be allowed to continue, and those who watch it unfold with a kind of pathological equanimity must be held to account.
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, President of the Global Business Coalition for HIV/AIDS, will examine the role of the international business community in the fight against HIV/AIDS in a luncheon address. Under Ambassador Holbrooke's leadership, the Coalition has been the catalyst for hundreds of businesses worldwide to get involved in education efforts to stop the AIDS pandemic.
A panel of writers, producers and performers from Afghanistan, China, India, Kenya and South Africa will screen excerpts from dramatic series in their countries and share the stories of how these entertainment programs have impacted their communities' attitudes about HIV/AIDS and helped curtail high-risk behavior.
Among the many others who will be participating in the Entertainment/AIDS Summit are representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coca-Cola Africa, Cable Positive, RKO Pictures, and several other leading authorities on HIV/AIDS education and communication.
This is a remarkable global gathering of experts from a broad range of disciplines, said Allan Rosenfield, M.D., dean, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. We are delighted to have the opportunity to create powerful new partnerships between the public health and entertainment communities in the struggle against HIV/AIDS.
The fight against HIV/AIDS is in part a battle against bigotry, fear, denial and ignorance, said Irwin (Sonny) Fox, Senior Vice President, Population Communications International. Entertainment programming is already a powerful vehicle for delivering crucial messages about HIV/AIDS and has the potential to do so much more when preeminent leaders in the fields of entertainment, business and public health pool their resources.
The November 18 Entertainment/AIDS Summit will be held on the Columbia University campus and is being presented by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Population Communications International in association with The Advertising Council, BBC World Service Trust, Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CONGO), International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, United Nations Foundation and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Principal support is being provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
For the past seven years, Population Communications International has organized the Soap Summit, working with network executives, producers and writers to develop storylines on HIV/AIDS and other health and social issues. Last year, CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful aired a seven-month-long HIV/AIDS storyline that resulted in a sharp increase in calls to the CDC's HIV/AIDS information hotline.
In South Africa, 16 million people tune-in weekly to Soul City, a drama broadcast on radio and TV. Now in its seventh season, Soul City has tackled a range of social issues including violence against women, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and environmental concerns. And in China, Bai Xing (Ordinary People) attracts 50 million viewers weekly with its portrayal of village life on the Yellow River bank. The drama's third season focuses on the villagers' lack of basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS and consequent lack of sympathy for HIV/AIDS patients. These are just a few examples of entertainment programs that will be represented at the November 18 Entertainment/AIDS Summit.
(Source: http://www.biz-community.com/196/11.html 06 November 2003).