Using Dramatization to Erase the Stigma Around Patients of AIDS


Tactical Aim: 
Country or Region: 

Ta’ayosh, the Coexistence campaign, is working to erase the negative social stigma around patients of AIDS and the discrimination they face from health providers due to the misconceptions the public health providers have towards the virus and its transmission. The campaign works to raise the public awareness of HIV virus.

A group of alumni of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, CIHRS, met with a number of AIDS patients. They organized an intensive workshop and interviews with the patients in order to gather as much information as possible about their stories. They also adapted stories from the book, “Letters from Egypt,” which was put together by the Egyptian forums against discrimination and shaming after transforming the stories into the common dialect to fit into the theatrical narrative.

After collecting information, the graduates of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies produced a theatrical play, “Disease is Not a Crime,” presenting ten true stories of people living with AIDS. The play shows the hardship, challenges, and discrimination patients of AIDS face on a daily basis by the service providers and society. In an effort to raise awareness of HIV, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies produced a short video to promote the campaign’s goals. 

A "teaser" for the play that was produced is available (in Arabic only):

New Tactics in Human Rights does not advocate for or endorse specific tactics, policies or issues.

What we can learn from this tactic: 
Breaking down stigmas and transforming misconceptions can be a difficult undertaking. The Cairo Institute educated the public in a captivating and emotional way. By using a form of entertainment, such as theater and videos, they were able to grab people’s attention with the emotional narrative. They raised awareness of the issue, broke down commonly held misconceptions, and gave a voice to the silenced. 
A vital component to this tactic is its ability to share personal experiences while keeping the identities of the victims completely anonymous. This is essential to ensuring their protection from further discrimination or retaliation. The protection of the victims must always take precedence to the story. 
To be more effective, this awareness raising tactic could be paired with another tactic that promotes anti-discriminatory practices over a long-term period.