Jen Leeming|08.06.2016|MTV MTV Shuga News Shuga

Last night was a huge night for all of us here at MTV Staying Alive foundation, as Executive Director Georgia Arnold announced the hugely exciting launch of MTV Shuga Season 5!

Ahead of the announcement, preliminary results of an independent study by the World Bank were realeased, and showed that MTV Shuga has had a profoundly positive effect on knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of young people relating to HIV/AIDS and safe sex. A randomized controlled trial with extensive data collections prior and six months after exposure to the ground-breaking TV series, the researchers found clear evidence that MTV Shuga affects change among youth. 

Conducted in Nigeria (2014-2015), preliminary results of the World Bank-designed study entitled “Changing norms and behaviors through entertainment TV: Impact Evaluation of the MTV series Shuga,” will be released today as part of the UNGA HLM (High-Level Meetings) Ending AIDS. Five thousand 18-25 year-olds from across southwest Nigeria took part in the in-depth six-month evaluation, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Impact Evaluation to Development Impact (i2i), a World Bank fund supported by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

The findings show that:

- MTV Shuga substantially increased HIV testing: Individuals who watched the show were 35% more likely to report getting tested in the last six months. Immediately after the six-month data collection, twice as many viewers of MTV Shuga went to sexual health centers to get tested.

- A 58 percent reduction of chlamydia was seen among females who had watched MTV Shuga from the study.

- MTV Shuga improved knowledge about HIV transmission and testing

- Viewers were less likely to have concurrent sexual partners, and also engaged in safer sex with primary and non-primary sexual partners.

- Viewers liked the TV drama and had good recall of its main messages after 6 months.

Victor Orozco, Principal Investigator and Economist from The World Bank’ Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) unit commented: “The experimental evaluation shows that ‘MTV Shuga’ directly improved knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to HIV/AIDS. The effects in several key outcomes were substantial and given the show’s global reach and low broadcast costs, ‘MTV Shuga’ can potentially alter attitudes and behaviors of millions of individuals at low marginal costs.”

A fifth season of MTV Shuga, starring South African actress Mohau Mokoatle, set for the first time in South Africa, is due to begin pre-production in September 2016. The latest incarnation of the series will be funded by South Africa’s Ministry of Basic Education, PEPFAR (The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), Marie Stopes International and Positive Action.

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“HIV prevention is not only a challenge for the health system, but also for the education, economic, social and cultural systems of our society. HIV has the potential to undermine our efforts to achieve improved quality basic education,” said Mrs. Angie Motshekga, South African Minister of Basic Education. “‘MTV Shuga’ comes at a time when the South African Government had resolved to implement a 360-mass media behaviour change campaign on HIV Prevention and Sexuality Education Programme. We are pleased with the overwhelming support received from the MTV Stay Alive Foundation and its partners for this vision, and together we will achieve the ambitious objectives we have set ourselves as Basic Education’s contribution to a complete country response through ‘MTV Shuga.’”

Georgia Arnold, Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation notes, “we’re heartened to see that the work we’re doing with ‘MTV Shuga’ is helping drive positive social change. To witness TV actually decreasing sexually transmitted infections is powerful, and MTV and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation are incredibly proud to stand behind this show that showcases TV as a vehicle for good.”

“MTV Shuga” is moving to South Africa at a time when HIV prevalence is up to 8 times higher among adolescent girls than among adolescent males (15-19 years old) in South Africa. (UNAIDS 2015). While the total number of AIDS-related deaths in all age groups fell by 35% between 2005 and 2013, AIDS-related deaths in adolescents increased by 50%. (Lancet Commission 2015)

Ambassador-at-Large Deborah Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator & U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy states, “”The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has been a long-standing partner and supporter of the MTV Shuga series. We are pleased to see results from the World Bank’s impact evaluation, which show the positive influence that MTV Shuga is having on increasing HIV-related knowledge and health-seeking behaviors among young people. Using data to drive decision-making and improve program design is something that PEPFAR has long championed. Through our support of MTV Shuga 5, which is leveraging real-time polling of youth to inform the design of the next series in South Africa, we believe we can help reduce new HIV infections among young people and contribute to building the next AIDS-free generation.”

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