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Banish AIDS: Animated avatars on awareness drive

- Actors lend voice to software developed by TeachAIDS, to be screened in schools and hospitals of Assam
The avatars of actors Pranjal Saikia, Zerifa Wahid, Kapil Bora and Moloya Goswami, who have lent their voices to the animation

Guwahati, Dec. 19: An animation software has given a technological push to awareness campaigns on HIV/AIDS in Assam.

The State AIDS Control Society will soon screen the animation software, developed by TeachAIDS, an agency approved by Stanford University in the US, in hospitals, schools and counselling centres and share it with NGOs and research groups to prevent HIV/AIDS through public awareness.

Actors Moloya Goswami, Pranjal Saikia, Zerifa Wahid and Kapil Bora have lent their voices to the animation. The software, copies of which have been provided free of cost, has already been dubbed in Assamese.

Goswami and Saikia, two veteran actors, perform the role of two doctors, while Zerifa and Kapil act and lend their voices to the characters of two young students seeking to know about HIV and how to prevent AIDS. Through the animation, which can be played on TV, DVD, computer or LCD projectors, the four actors talk about the basics of HIV/AIDS, how it spreads and the preventive measures that should be adopted.

“This software has been prepared in consultation with a group of researchers in education, public health, communication and medicine to promote awareness about HIV and prevent HIV/AIDS. Animation always attracts the attention of people and we hope that it will help make students and others in Assam more aware about HIV/AIDS and prevent it. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has already approved the use of our technology,” Piya Sorcar, founder and chief executive officer of TeachAIDS, said.

HIV infection cases in the state have increased from 1,275 in 2011 to 1,337 in 2012. Assam is not considered a high-prevalence state, but health officials consider it vulnerable given its proximity to high AIDS prevalent states like Manipur and Nagaland.

HIV education materials designed by TeachAIDS is used in over 70 countries. In India, it was first used in Andhra Pradesh in 2009 when HIV-infected children were expelled from schools because of social stigma. Celebrities like Shabana Azmi, Nagarjuna, Amol Palekar and Shruti Hassan, among others, have already lent their voices to the animation. TeachAIDS is now planning to dub the material in 15 Indian languages in order to reach out to more than 100 million people.

“Using our unique research-based process, we will work with experts in Assam to design and implement more HIV education materials while balancing local cultural and social needs. It is really good to see Assamese actors coming forward and lending their voices for the noble project,” Sorcar said.

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