World Aids Day

As the cornerstone of a new media-based Aids-awareness initiative for sub-Saharan Africa, the nonprofit Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership (DCGEP) has commissioned Johannesburg-based production company Curious Pictures to produce a feature-length film called Inside Story: the Science of HIV/Aids.

With production set to begin in 2011, Inside Story is to combine fiction and non-fiction storytelling to unravel the mystery of HIV and give millions the knowledge they need to make informed health decisions. Curious Pictures has long experience in producing this kind of social drama, having made the highly regarded Tsha Tsha, Soul City and Heartlines, as well as Hopeville, which won a 2010 Rose d'Or in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The project’s partners, Pepfar, Chevron, Discovery Communications and Access Bank, have already pledged 94% of the funding needed to produce the film. To make up the difference, DCGEP launched a GlobalGiving online donation campaign on World Aids Day 2010, urging individuals to contribute to the project's success. A first-of-a-kind campaign for DCGEP, the film will also receive the support of Discovery Communications' expansive social media networks in the US and beyond. A comprehensive roll-out of the completed film will include national broadcasts across Africa, theatrical screenings and screenings at a grassroots level by NGOs, schools and governments.

"Inside Story is an important project, addressing a gap that our field has not yet been able to fill," said Ben Plumley, chief executive officer of Pangaea Global Aids Foundation. "I am excited about DCGEP's efforts and hope individuals and other public and private entities will join me in supporting it."

Inside Story will be told through the eyes of Kal, a young man from the Zambian copperbelt who dreams of a professional soccer career. When he moves to South Africa, begins a promising relationship with his coach's daughter and is on the verge of soccer stardom, he learns he is HIV positive. The film will explain the science of how HIV works in a personal, practical and memorable way, replacing misunderstanding with facts and demystifying the virus through a realistic animated journey inside the human body.

"Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership is dedicated to using the power of media to transform the lives of people around the world, and Inside Story's combination of compelling characters and narrative combined with informative scientific insights is a revolutionary new approach to fighting HIV/Aids in the developing world," said Aric Noboa, DCGEP’s president. "Through the support of like-minded partners, and now individuals through our GlobalGiving campaign, we can make a difference in sub-Saharan Africa and our global community."

According to recent estimates by UNAids, 22.5-million people in sub-Saharan Africa were living with HIV in 2009, making up more than two-thirds of the total number of HIV-positive people in the world. The incidence of infection has risen by more than 10% since 2001, showing that there is still a need to educate both adults and children about the causes and effects of HIV/Aids.

Inside Story has been developed in conjunction with internationally renowned experts and activists from organisations, including Grassroot Soccer, FHI, Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communication Programs, World Aids Campaign and National Emergency Response Council on HIV/Aids Swaziland.

To support the film and the campaign, DCGEP will provide facilitator training and guides, educational posters, and DVD material to community organisations, public health organisations and schools in both urban and rural areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The project will also have a dedicated website.

Inside Story is an extension of DCGEP's work around the world since 1997. The partnership has revolutionised education in over 200 underserved communities around the world, from Angola to Venezuela, improving teacher effectiveness, increasing student learning, motivation and attendance for over 800 000 students, and reaching 2-million community members.

To donate to Inside Story, visit www.globalgiving.org and search for Inside Story, or click here. For more information, contact Amber Harris of Discovery Communications on +1-240 662 5235.