News / Asia

    Thailand Group Uses Drama to Teach AIDS Prevention

    A member of the audience looks at slides projected on huge video screens during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, July 25, 2012. A member of the audience looks at slides projected on huge video screens during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, July 25, 2012.
    A member of the audience looks at slides projected on huge video screens during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, July 25, 2012.
    A member of the audience looks at slides projected on huge video screens during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, July 25, 2012.
    Ira Mellman
    A former United Nations official has taken a step back in technological time in an effort to prevent the transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus in Asia.

    As more than 20,000 delegates attended last week's AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington, Dr. David Feingold, an anthropologist and former director of the HIV, AIDS and trafficking program for the Bangkok office of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stood near an exhibition room talking with anyone who passed by about the poster affixed to a temporary wall behind him.

    The poster extolled the efforts of his UNESCO group, including the use of what some consider an outdated technology.

    "We decided to reach people by using radio which could reach people in the most remote areas," explained Feingold. "You could carry your little transistor radio with you when you went to the rice fields."

    The goal, according to Feingold, was to give people prevention information they need in their own languages. Feingold says the focus of the program is to reach members of Southeast Asia's ethnic minorities, many of whom do not speak the national language.

    "The first thing was to use drama," said Feingold, "because young people don't pay any attention to public service announcements anywhere and drama engages people." The dramas, said Feingold, are "research based, based on real stories of real people dramatized to make it more exciting."

    The effort was started more than a decade ago when 30 programs were produced in the Shan language of Burma and Thailand. It was then expanded, said Feingold, with public and corporate donations to remote areas of Laos, Cambodia and China.

    "All of the dramas dealt with HIV/AIDS prevention, trafficking and unsafe migration and non-traditional drug abuse," Feingold said. But he added local issues were also included. The problem of land security was very important to one tribe in Cambodia, said Feingold, while another Cambodian tribe had a major problem with domestic violence. These issues, said Feingold, were also addressed in the dramas.

    The dramas produced results. "In a number of cases," Feingold said, "we did testing of what the people knew before they were exposed to the program and then what did they know after.  What we found were very, very significant increases in knowledge.  But funding for the dramas ran out, and so did the production."

    Feingold says that did not stop their usefulness. "One of the things that happen with these dramas is that they are repeated very often."  

    UNESCO also distributed these dramas on Compact Discs. They are then played repeatedly on boom boxes, portable stereo CD players popular with today's youth. He adds, "there are also some very old fashioned ways it's used."  He says in villages, especially in communist countries, have village loudspeaker systems that are used to play and replay these dramas.

    Feingold says in Cambodia, the government played the dramas on loudspeaker trucks that travel to very remote areas. While production of the dramas, with an estimated cost of $20,000 each, has stopped for now and Feingold has retired, he says the dramas could reach an audience of about 15 million people at risk of HIV and human trafficking. Although he does not speak for UNESCO any more, he says anyone that wants to fund more dramas can contact UNESCO's Office of Asia and the Pacific.

    Additional reporting by Diane Gao

    You May Like

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.