Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Photo: aids.gov
When I first heard the word “SHUGA” from a colleague I thought she was referring to the normal sugar.  Turns out it’s the title of a drama that provides great entertainment but important messages about HIV/AIDS and other health issues.

The production of SHUGA 3, the third production in the MTV award winning TV series – “SHUGA” – took place in Lagos and included mostly upcoming Nigerian actors and actresses.  More than three years ago the first production of SHUGA (“SHUGA 1”) was filmed in Kenya to highlight the risks young Kenyans faced when being sexually active without the use of protection and living careless lifestyles.  SHUGA 3 highlights the realities for youth in Nigeria.

Of the 4% of Nigerians affected by HIV/AIDS a significant percentage is made up of youth between the ages of 15 – 24.  This therefore is an important target group if Nigeria is to win the fight against the disease.

At the premiere of the series in Abuja, United States Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle said it’s a unique approach to addressing the AIDS epidemic and that television allows for an expansion in outreach.  He added that “As we seek to achieve an AIDS-free generation, it is imperative that we continue to innovate and support programs like SHUGA to ensure that our message remains authentic and relevant.”

The SHUGA 3 campaign received direct funding from PEPFAR (U.S. Presidents Emergency fund for AIDS Relief) Washington through the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator while the PEPFAR Nigeria program provided technical support.  Other sponsors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nigeria National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation.

Since inception in Nigeria in 2004, PEPFAR has disbursed about 3.5 billion U.S. dollars (approximately 560 billion Naira) to support the Nigeria HIV/AIDS response with about 540,000 men, women and children currently on HIV treatment.

In addition to the TV series, the Nigeria “SHUGA” campaign will include a radio drama series, a peer educator program, a comic book in Hausa and English, a mobile information service, social media and a range of other digital platforms.

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