Health Education bandleader Golden Scott has urged artists in Malawi to intensify the spread of HIV and Aids messages despite shortage of training opportunities.
In an interview, Scott said the World Aids Day on Saturday calls on celebrities to reflect on how their influence can help mitigate or fuel new infections even from parents to children.
â€œAt present, there are fewer and fewer messages of HIV prevention from our creative industry. Artists must not only send correct information about behavioural change but also live by example,â€ said the leader of the State-funded group.
He feels most artworks are so cryptic and over-dramatised that they send ambiguous signals and fuel stigma. Therefore, he advised artists to keep their compositions simple and straightforward enough to persuade people towards faithfulness, HIV testing and counselling, abstinence, condom use and prevention of parents-to-child transmission.
â€œSome Malawians think HIV and Aids messages are not stimulating while others are put off because artists usually tackle health issues for money and hardly live by what they preach. We need to be exemplary and keep talking about the pandemic even without allowances,â€ said Scott.
The National Aids Policy recognises artists as key communication agents.
While lobbying for more HIV and Aids artworks, award-winning musician Ben Mankhamba said they deserve to be paid when they are hired by people who have solicited funds for awareness campaigns.
And Pakachere Institute for Health and Development Education executive director Simon Sikwese advocated more funding towards training of artists to combat innuendos, half-truths and stigma in their works.
Â â€œTypical of the misinformation in their products, many artists often mention HIV and Aids as if they mean the same thing. We must train artists in these concepts. For instance, our approach to prevention of mother-to-child transmission stresses on specialised medical fields, leaving out artists,â€ said Sikwese.
In 2010, Pakachere engaged Mankhamba and other musicians in a video project to reduce the risky tendency of having more than one sexual partner.Â