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Saturday, April 08, 2006 

UN, EU, Canada fund film in bid to stem spread of AIDS in Haiti

Friday, April 7, 2006

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP): The UN, the European Union and Canada have joined forces to raise awareness about AIDS in Haiti, the Caribbean country hardest hit by the pandemic, by funding a film titled "Does The Band Leader Have AIDS?"The fictional film, which premieres in the country Thursday, tells the story of a handsome heartthrob who heads up a band.

One day, a woman refuses to sleep with him, saying she wants to protect herself from AIDS, which has affected 173,000 of Haiti's 8.5 million people.The film is "a promotional tool meant to raise awareness and bring about changes in people's behavior," said Adama Guindo, of the United Nations Development Program in Haiti.

Directed by Haitian filmmaker Arnold Antonin, the film stars Haitian-born actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, who has also appeared in Hollywood films alongside Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis and Jean-Claude Van Damme.Antonin said the film is intended to spark awareness in a society where "people still think of AIDS as an evil spell that can be reversed by voodoo."

"This magical mindset has a negative effect on the fight against AIDS," said Antonin, who has promised to donate half of the film's proceeds to organizations devoted to fighting the disease in Haiti.According to UN figures, the prevalence of the deadly virus fell from 9.4 percent in 1993 to 3.7 percent in 2004. Among HIV-positive pregnant women, the prevalence was cut in half during that period, dropping from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent.

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