Saturday, October 06, 2007

Superhero to spread AIDS awareness

Gangtok, Oct. 5: A Sikkimese has designed a new superhero to spearhead an UNDP AIDS awareness campaign in 11 Indian states.
Dude-Rex and his clan, created by Serah Basnet, save lives by battling against all forms of sexually transmitted diseases as well as preventing unwanted pregnancies. Their nemesis is Death Vader, the dark lord of death, and his gang who are out to spread misinformation on AIDS and HIV and create chaos.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has come out with the comic book, Dude-Rex Chronicles, Adventures of a Superhero Condom Clan, primarily keeping urban readers in mind.
Basnet has provided the concept and script for the comic book. She along with Jarina Tingbo, also from Sikkim, had earlier worked on another awareness-related comic book, Asha, produced by the UNDP-TAHA project (prevention of trafficking, HIV and AIDS in women and girls).
Asha tells the story of an HIV-infected girl who was sold to a brothel at the age of 17. Later Asha, along with her mother, holds monthly workshops on topics ranging from social empowerment to safe sex for women.
“When we were working on Asha, which was specially meant for rural masses, we realised that we did not have anything for the urban people. That is when we came up with the idea of having a superhero to disseminate information to the urban population,” Basnet said.
The two-colour comic book is being distributed free of cost by UNDP in all the 11 states where it works in collaboration with NGOs and the Aids Control Societies. It is also being produced and disseminated in collaboration with TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues).
The 11 states include Bengal, Bihar and Orissa in eastern India.
Dude-Rex Chronicles has been edited by Mona Mishra and the art (pencil and ink) is by Joel Gill. Tingbo and Mallika Malhotra provided technical support.
TAHA was launched as a pioneering prevention and care project in August in 2005. It was designed to address the increasing incidence of trafficking of women and children in India and their vulnerability to HIV infections.