New TV series ‘Corrie goes to Kenya’ to highlight ability of theatre to promote understanding of HIV and AIDS in Africa

by Sarah Kennedy, LCID Member and Director of Development for S.A.F.E.

Tonight UK charity S.A.F.E. will feature in the first of two one-hour documentaries on ITV1: Corrie Goes to Kenya. In these programmes, four Coronation Street actors work with the S.A.F.E. team in Kenya who use theatre to challenge the misinformation and ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS.

These programmes will take complex development issues and information about HIV/AIDS to a mainstream television audience in a visual and accessible way. Corrie Goes to Kenya will also demonstrate the ability of the UK arts sector to raise awareness about complex international development issues.

This exclusive new two-part series sees four much-loved Coronation Street stars – Sue Cleaver, Ryan Thomas, Brooke Vincent and Ben Price – take a break from the cobbles of Weatherfield to work in an entirely difference context: bustling Mombasa, where they will work with S.A.F.E.’s Kenyan actors to spread information about HIV.

 The episodes will follow the team as they create and perform a series of soap-like plays as street theatre in Coast Province. There will be moving scenes as the Corrie team visit villages and meet people suffering from HIV and AIDS. They will also meet those whose lives have been changed thanks to S.A.F.E.’s accessible education through theatre, in a country where over 70,000 people lose their lives to the disease every year.

Corrie Goes to Kenya highlights the continued stigma and misinformation that surrounds HIV/AIDS across Africa, as well as the difficulties in overcoming these challenges in a country where most people do not have access to a TV and only 85% of adults are literate. S.A.F.E. beats the odds by delivering life-saving information through accessible, mobile street theatre.

Over two decades into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there remains in Kenya widespread discrimination and misinformation surrounding the disease. People die of ignorance, with little or no access to information about transmission, prevention or treatment.

  • Worldwide, there are 33.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and 22.5 million of those live in Sub-Saharan Africa (UN AIDS Report 2009).
  • Kenya has a population of 40.5 million with a national HIV prevalence rate of 6.3%.
  • Myths, superstitions and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS are especially rife in Coast Province, where Corrie Goes to Kenya was filmed. Some of the most disturbing misconceptions include that transmission is a result of witchcraft, and that a cure of HIV/ AIDS is by having unprotected sex with multiple uninfected partners or virgins.

After performances, S.A.F.E. and its partners deliver services such as HIV testing and counselling, condom demonstrations and distribution, and workshops with the most at risk. This model has significant impact: for example, S.A.F.E. has recorded a 76% increase in awareness of and willingness to use condoms after performances[1]. To deliver these educational performances costs just 88p per beneficiary and £2 a month can reach a family with lifesaving information about HIV/AIDS. More information about S.A.F.E.’s work can be found at www.safekenya.org.

The first episode of Corries Goes to Kenya will be aired at 9pm on ITV1 on Friday 17 August 2012. See www.safekenya.org and www.itv.com/coronationstreet for more information. A trailer of the episode can be viewed at http://www.itv.com/coronationstreet/news/corriegoestokenyatvtrail/

Follow on twitter @safe_kenya and #corriegoestokenya

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