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Antigua & Barbuda’s Pioneers in Film Receive Regional Award

hama_awardAntigua & Barbuda’s Howard and Mitzi Allen, a married film-making team, were recently honored for their work in helping to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean region usually face.

The duo, who spearhead HAMAFilms, a film and television production company,  received the LIVE UP: Loyalty and Support Award, a part of the LIVE UP: Caribbean Media Alliance, while they were in Barbados to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Regional Testing Day (RTD), which has been organized y LIVE UP: Caribbean Media Alliance for the past ten years. 

In 2016, RTD tested over 20,000 persons in 20 countries at more than 300 testing sites, and in 2017, the aim is to ensure that up to 100,000 persons get tested.

HAMA as an organization has been directly involved in assisting more than 30 young media professionals in receiving training to produce and deliver public service announcements and news reports about HIV.

“When we began, the general story-line showed people with HIV and AIDS as victims,” explained Howard Allen. “Our role was to teach these young journalists and producers, new and creative ways to capture images and deliver content in a way that the person is seen in a more human way and not as a victim. It was also important that they reach young people with social messages, which were also entertaining.”

He added,

“Initially it was very difficult to get someone to say they have HIV, now you can find people who will come on camera and share their story.”

Both Howard and Mitzi agree that, in order for films about HIV/AIDS to be more realistic, media professionals should shake off their own perceptions of what a person with HIV/AIDS looks like, and how they contracted the virus, and become better informed in order to tell their stories from a more compassionate perspective.

By: Danielle Dixon

Follow her on Twitter: @tooprettydani

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