PATH gets sexy to save lives in Kenya

Sex sells, everyone knows, so PATH is selling it to save lives.

Shuga: Love, Sex, Money – Official Trailer from MTV staying alive on Vimeo.

The Seattle-based global health organization has recently launched a steamy six-part television series in Nairobi, Kenya, called Shuga: Love, Sex, Money aimed at preventing the spread of HIV, the AIDS virus.

“This is pretty racy for Kenya,” said Rikka Trangsgrud, PATH’s long-time country programs director for Kenya. “There are some fairly explicit scenes and themes … We are really pushing the envelope here but the idea is to prompt important discussions.”

Or as PATH says on its website: Shuga, which features a cast of red-hot African actors and an Oscar-winning directing team, addresses the thorny issues of sexual health head-on, confronting taboos such as rape and sex-for-gifts through the tangled love lives of its characters.

The TV series is, in effect, paid for by American taxpayers through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (widely regarded as one of President George W. Bush’s most successful international endeavors). PATH has been the facilitator, administering the affiliated Partnership for on HIV-Free Generation program in Kenya and launching a commercial youth branding scheme G-Pange.

“One of our partners on this project is MTV,” said Trangsrud. The first goal of this project is to be entertaining and provocative, she said, with the aim of capturing the attention of young people in order to get them talking about these issues.

“It has to be appealing,” Trangsrud said. “It’s sexy.”

And, if it works, will save lives.


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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.