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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More DC Carnival pics.

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Choices: Roots, Reality, Culture

Today is National HIV Testing Day in the US and I have been asked to bring a project to the attention which marries our West Indian Culture with the facts about HIV. Set against a backdrop of Trinidad Carnival this 10 part Mini Series entitled "Choices: Roots, Reality, Culture" on MTV's Tempo seeks to addresses sexual health, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, along with other issues.

Viewers of the videos are encouraged to give feedback via SMS, online votes or joining the discussion forum for each episode in the Choices community.

You can view the video of Episode 1 on the Choices website and a synopsis of the episode is given below:
Episode 1: Let The Games Begin
We meet SHAUNA, BRENT, and TREVOR on each of their home turfs, and see their reactions of joy upon receiving the message that says they’ve won an all expense paid trip to Carnival. BRENT witnesses a guy leaving his girlfriend’s house as he approaches. When he rings the doorbell his girlfriend ALANA answers wearing a towel and seems surprised to see him. Something’s not right, they argue.

Viewers are encouraged to give their feedback on these questions:

BRENT has some decisions to make. What should BRENT do?
* Leave ALANA she’s trying to play him for a fool
* Trust her

Personally I think the series is a very interesting one and I will be looking at each episode to see how Carnival and our culture is portrayed in it's role of perpetuating the spread of Sexually Transmitted diseases. I know the fact that sex and Carnival ultimately goes hand in hand is an issue that many tend to sweep under the carpet. Reality is though that within the "freedom" of the Carnival season people tend to throw caution to the wind, fueled by alcohol and a sexually charged environment with scantily clad sexy bodies and even sexier music coming together in an orgy of bacchanal! How many stories have you heard of people "hooking up" for Carnival or a rise in the numbers of babies being born nine months later in November? So I hope all of you who visit this blog checks out this series by TEMPO as any medium used to get the message of HIV awareness and prevention out there has my full support andendorsement.

Here is some more information about the series Choices from the official press release:

TEMPO Launches Interactive Scripted Series Choices - Roots, Reality, Culture.

Series to Educate and Empower Young People Regarding Sexual Health, and HIV/AIDS Awareness & Prevention in Partnership with PSI, MTV Staying Alive, and UNICEF

Rising rates of HIV infections amongst Caribbean youth, spurred TEMPO, PSI, MTV Staying Alive and UNICEF to launch a new interactive drama titled Choices - Roots, Reality, Culture to air on TEMPO beginning June 21, 2007. Part of TEMPO's One Love pro-social initiative, Choices, - Roots, Reality, Culture is a ground breaking interactive scripted series of shorts. The scripted project takes viewers into the world of a group of young people who meet at Trinidad Carnival and become fast friends during a pure Caribbean adventure. As their stories unfold, characters traverse issues surrounding sexual health, pregnancy, impaired decision-making due to alcohol consumption, HIV/AIDS testing, trust, and peer pressure. At the conclusion of each episode the audience will have the opportunity to vote to decide on the choices faced by an individual character. Choices - Roots, Reality, Culture will be complimented by a weekly online blog and articles written by an advisory panel of youth health experts, artists, educators, and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention experts.

TEMPO is pleased to have worked with a diverse array of Caribbean talent in the production of Choices: Roots, Reality, Culture. Jamaica's screen star and artist Cherine Anderson; Trinidad actor/artist Arnold Goindhoo, model Angel Ross; and St Vincent actor/artist, Bernard John have all lent their talent to this project. The series will air on TEMPO and online via TEMPO's broadband player Through partnerships with MTV Staying Alive and UNICEF the series will go on to air on other MTVN properties including, and serve as a format for other Staying Alive productions. The series will be made available rights free and at no cost for broadcasters, around the globe.

Choices: Roots, Reality, Culture was conceptualized in partnership by TEMPO and PSI. "Like our Badness Outta Style Campaign that confronts the rising rate of violence in the region and encourages positive resolution to disputes, our CHOICES campaign seeks to encourage thoughtful decision-making regarding our sexual health. Tempo is committed through our One Love Pro-Social campaign to always being part of the solution and to battling all vices that may threaten our way of life. In the spirit of One Love, we are excited to partner with PSI in this common objective to educate and inform Caribbean people towards the best CHOICES," said Frederick A. Morton, Jr., Founder, SVP & General Manager of Tempo ("Mr. Tempo").

"PSI is thrilled to be partnering with TEMPO in this first of its kind series designed to raise the bar on HIV/AIDS awareness communication in the Caribbean. TEMPO has been an ideal partner in keeping with PSI's focus of speaking with and not down to Caribbean youth in novel ways that young people can relate to. It is hoped that the relationship between TEMPO and PSI will "grow from strength to strength" and we look forward to working together on future initiatives", said Ms. Pamela Faura, Regional Director for PSI in the Caribbean.

Audience members are encouraged to vote and comment on the series at Voting will also be registered via mobile phones via shortcode 7425 pan-regionally and 444-7425 in Jamaica only.

Facts about HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean:

o 250,000 persons in the Caribbean are currently living with HIV.
o With an average HIV prevalence of 1.2%, the Caribbean is the region of the world with the second highest prevalence after Sub-Saharan Africa.
o In 2006 alone, 27,000 individuals living in the Caribbean acquired HIV.
o In some countries in the Caribbean the number of female adolescents between the ages of 15-19 living with HIV/AIDS has been found to be two to six times higher than the number of adolescent males of the same age group.
o The vulnerability of young women to HIV infection is well documented. In the Caribbean, young women now comprise more than two-thirds (69%) of all young people living with HIV/AIDS.

Envisioned by native son Frederick Morton Jr. and launched by Viacom, Inc.'s MTV Networks, TEMPO brings the Caribbean vibe to Viacom's roster of popular and highly targeted cable networks which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, and Spike TV, by representing every island in all its glory. TEMPO brings to life all the richness and influence that the Caribbean has to offer. Connect with TEMPO at TEMPO is a registered trademark of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom International Inc. MTV Networks also operates and offers joint ventures, licensing agreements and syndication deals whereby its programming can be seen worldwide.

About PSI
Population Services International (PSI), a non-profit organization founded in 1970, measurably improves the health of poor and vulnerable people in over 60 countries around the developing world, principally through social marketing of family planning and health products and services, and behavior change communications. PSI's social marketing approach engages private sector resources and uses private sector techniques to encourage healthy behavior and make mar kets work for the poor and for those at higher risk for health-related illnesses. Recently selected by "Fast Company" magazine and the Monitor Group as one of the world's top social entrepreneurs, PSI combines creativity and ingenuity with business solutions to address global health issues. In the Caribbean, PSI implements a regional social marketing program for the prevention of HIV.

About MTV Staying Alive
Launched in 1988, Staying Alive is a multimedia global HIV and AIDS prevention campaign that challenges stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS as well as empowers young people to protect themselves from infection. The Emmy Award-Winning campaign consists of documentaries, public service announcements, youth forums and web content. Staying Alive provides all of its television programming rights-free and at no cost to 3rd party broadcasters globally to get crucial prevention messages out to the widest possible audience. The Staying Alive campaign is a partnership between MTVN Networks International, Kaiser Family Foundation, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF and other partners. More information about Staying Alive can be found at

UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF’s mandate is to ensure that the principles and rights set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child are upheld and respected to offer opportunities for the full development of all children and adolescents. UNICEF works to assure equality for those who are discriminated against, girls and women in particular. UNICEF is one of the key UN organizations committed to the global response to HIV/AIDS on account of its strong history of cooperation with governments, extensive field presence, recognized track record of helping the world fight infectious disease, and its mandate to ensure the fulfillment of the rights of children and young people. UNICEF works in 191 countries around the world.
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