25 February 2022
UNESCO Almaty, UNESCO IITE and the Mass Media Team, with the support of UNAIDS Kazakhstan, have launched a short film PLUS about the love story of a discordant couple.The focus is on the relationship between the young photographer Ayan and his girlfriend Mika dreaming of building a family despite the prejudices of people around. The romantic drama narrating that everyone deserves happiness, HIV is not an obstacle to normal life, and the power of love is stronger than the power of stereotypes is available for viewing on YouTube of UNESCO Almaty.
More about the project
The PLUS film is a key element of UNESCO's information and education campaign on reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV in Kazakhstan. The film is intended to show that people living with HIV do not differ from other people - like everyone else they can live a normal life, work, make friends, build romantic relationships, start a family and give birth to healthy children with HIV-negative status.
People living with HIV took part in the creation of the film and the development of the script. Main charachters were played by young actors Asylbek Musabekov and Laura Tursunkanova. Also, an original soundtrack from the artists of the popular music label Ozen was composed specifically for PLUS.
“We chose this story because it reflects, probably, the whole essence of our everyday decisions: remaining “captive” to social stereotypes, we often forget that the real danger can hide in our attitude towards people. With the right and responsible approach, HIV infection is a chronic but non-fatal disease that is not transmitted through the air or in domestic conditions, and healthy children are born in discordant couples. We hope our film will help debunk stereotypes about HIV and living with this disease,” says project producer A. Sagynuly
According to official data, there are 28,773 people living with HIV in Kazakhstan today. Almost 70% of new HIV cases in the country are sexually transmitted. At the same time, the number of people taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) is growing every year.
PLUS is the first art film in Kazakhstan, where using the example of the love story of a discordant couple (*a couple in which one of the partners is HIV-positive), viewers can see the practical significance of antiretroviral therapy and the principle of “undetectable = non-transmitting”. By knowing their status, taking antiretroviral drugs regularly, and following the recommendations of doctors, people with HIV can reach an undetectable viral load, a state in which the virus in the blood becomes so small that it cannot be passed on to a partner. This condition allows people with HIV to lead full lives in every sense of the word.
The viewers can learn more about ART, undetectable viral load, the birth of healthy children in discordant couples and HIV testing in Kazakhstan from special information cards that the project team prepared together with the Kazakh Scientific Center for Dermatology and Infectious Diseases.
The premiere of the film takes place on the eve of March 1 - the Day for the Elimination of Discrimination, proclaimed by the UN. In Kazakhstan, the vast majority of people living with HIV continue to hide their status in order not to face misunderstanding and prejudice when applying for a job, visiting medical and educational institutions, and communicating with others. The PLUS film is a logical continuation of the joint work of UNESCO and UNAIDS aimed at preventing HIV and reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.
Krista Pikkat, Director of the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office: “Combating stigma and discrimination is impossible without knowledge and correct information about HIV. But even more important is to find a way not only to the minds but also to the hearts of people. The film allows us, through the personal drama of the characters, to feel the difficulties and prejudices faced by people living with HIV, and to see in them, first of all, people - the same as everyone else. We believe that the story of Ayan and Mika from the film PLUS will help viewers to see how groundless fears and prejudices are. After all, our ultimate goal is zero discrimination!”