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Changing Behavior, Changing Lives
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Changing Behavior, Changing Lives
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HIV and Concurrent Relationships
PATH created the lively, interactive Magnet Theater group in Kenya to help individuals and communities examine and alter risky behaviors involving sex. Individuals like Nelson, who became motivated by what he saw to get tested for HIV and change his ways.
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Produced and directed by Teresa Guillien.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Changing behavior, saving lives
VOICEOVER
These are the sounds of a tragic reality in western Kenya. Coffin making is a booming business because of the AIDS pandemic. Some communities here suffer the worst rates of both HIV infection and poverty in the entire country. How do you reach people here with HIV/AIDS information, and encourage change in risky behavior? PATH's answer is the innovative Magnet Theater, a hybrid of lively, interactive entertainment and crucial HIV prevention strategies. Nelson Sakwa first saw Magnet Theater in 2002, when it opened near his soft drink stand in the town of Mumias. Back then, he and his friends gave very little thought to their lifestyle.
NELSON
I would go with women -- even maybe three in a week, because by then I was not married. And even at the time I got married, I could at least sometimes sneak out once in a blue moon.
VOICEOVER
Nelson was the ideal candidate for Magnet Theater's message. Here's how it works: the facilitator calls the audience together; actors then play out a common social dilemma.
JANET SHAURI [PATH program staff, Kenya]
The characters will be people that anybody could relate with, people within that community could relate with those people. And then the story, the plot, it is something that everybody can identify with.
VOICEOVER
For example, a young girl considers marriage to an older man. Should the parents allow it, since the man has money? Should the couple go for HIV testing first? The action freezes, the facilitator asks, "What should these people do?" Suggestions are called out and everybody is drawn in.
JANET SHAURI
It really helps because now it helps them to reflect back into their lives, and later on be more conscious of their actions.
VOICEOVER
The actors are specially trained volunteers performing in the local language, easing the taboo on talking about sex, and promoting healthy choices.
NELSON
It really showed me some outside world. Then I decided to start changing my life.
VOICEOVER
Day after day at his shop, Nelson watched Magnet Theater and asked questions of PATH's staff. He gradually realized his behavior had put him and his wife at risk of contracting AIDS. Finally, he considered voluntary testing and counseling, known as VCT.
NELSON
Then I started to think about that so much. That's when I went to VCT.
VOICEOVER
It was a critical turning point. Nelson's HIV test, to his great relief, was negative.
NELSON
It was great. In fact I jumped up in the counseling room. And I decided to change my behaviors directly from that day. I'm also telling other guys and my friends to change their behaviors. I've really spread the message.
VOICEOVER
For that, he credits Magnet Theater.
NELSON
It opened up my brains to know what is in the outside world, the real thing in life about HIV and AIDS.
VOICEOVER
Today, Nelson owns a small restaurant, is a husband and father. He provides neighbors with PATH materials to spread the word. He's even spoken out on the radio. Through Magnet Theater, Nelson Sakwa has become a community leader and an unsung hero in the fight against AIDS.
NELSON
Life is precious. So I decided to be open, and just tell people what is happening. My wife was very happy, and my parents also. And now they are also trying to pass the message across to other people, because it's like a message which is spreading and spreading.
INTERVIEWER
How does it make you feel inside to know that you're passing this information and helping others?
NELSON
I'm proud, of course. I'm very proud.
TITLE
PATH: A catalyst for global health. www.path.org