For the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, the “Nowchpok” team in collaboration with the UNESCO IITE released a YouTube video with an intriguing title: Can viruses destroy us? In three weeks, the video scored more than 110 thousand views and more than 7,000 “likes”. Referring to popular images of “zombie apocalypse” from films and video games, the movie tells about viruses that exist not just in horror films, but in real life. The Rabies virus, the Spanish flu, Zika virus and, of course, Human Immunodeficiency Virus – they all act differently, but each of them is dangerous in its own way.
The video begins with the story of the discovery of viruses as a life form and description of their biological structure. It also tells about how viruses interact with the body cells and what is the world medical community doing to fight the diseases caused by viruses. What makes viruses especially dangerous? What is the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic? Why do we need vaccines? How do they work? The video answers all these questions clearly and intelligibly before moving on to the subject of HIV / AIDS and its spread, which is a pressing issue for the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The most important theory and practice information on HIV prevention, testing and therapy, rebuttal of some myths surrounding HIV, global and regional statistics – all of this is condensed and visualized in a five-minute animation.
Using informal tone and multimedia platforms for HIV prevention among adolescents and young people seems to be a more effective and promising way than the old-fashioned printed posters or long grim documentaries. The strength of these clips is placing the emphasis on scientific facts and mixing education with entertainment in a humorous and non-patronizing way. This is what makes it possible to reach out to a larger audience and inspire an active discussion in the comments.
Tigran Yepoyan, UNESCO Regional HIV and Health Education Advisor
At the very end, the authors of the video return to the question: “Can viruses destroy us?” Experts answer: viruses will not be able to do this, if we look after ourselves and take good care of our own health. Responsible decisions and choices, such as regular HIV testing, timely vaccination against other diseases, accessing proper treatment and using critical thinking to counter unreliable information can become the best defense against viruses.