Giving Compass’ Take:
• Global Citizen profiles Lihle Bhebhe, a teenager in South Africa diagnosed with HIV, who is starring in a series of 360-degree virtual reality films, created by Google and UNAIDS, to raise awareness about the disease among young people.
• Can VR technology bring the realities of HIV/AIDS to life in more vivid ways than conventional media? How might Bhebhe’s actions inspire more youth advocacy in the field?
Lihle Bhebhe, from Nyanga township in Cape Town, first started feeling unwell five years ago, when she was 14.
She put off visiting the doctor, hoping that she would start to feel better on her own.
But, after not seeing an improvement, she went to a clinic — where a nurse suggested she take a series of tests, including an HIV test.
“I was scared,” Bhebhe, now 19, told UNAIDS. “The nurse explained to me various scenarios and guided me. When my test came back HIV-positive, I met a peer counsellor.”
“She made me believe in myself,” she said, remembering how the counsellor had comforted her and reassured her that a long and healthy life was still possible with HIV.
But when Bhebhe got home, she cried. She didn’t dare tell her mother at first, believing that she had let her down. Over time, however, she has now been able to tell her family and friends.
After first being diagnosed, she remembers, she felt like her HIV status was written on her forehead.
“I feared everyone would know and things would never be the same,” she continued.
Now, Bhebhe has appeared in a series of virtual reality films, created in partnership by Google, UNAIDS, and South African production company Makhulu Media, with the aim of encouraging other young people to get tested.
Read the full article about the teenager in South Africa promoting HIV testing and advocacy by Imogen Calderwood at Global Citizen.
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