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Animation lessons on HIV/AIDS awareness released

Special Correspondent

- PHOTO: M. SUBHASH

For a cause: Dr. Piya Sorcar, actor Nagarjuna, Matrix Laboratories founder N. Prasad and actor Anushka at the launch of an animation film on AIDS in Hyderabad on Friday.

HYDERABAD: In a unique initiative to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS among schoolchildren and youth, Tollywood actors Akkineni Nagarjuna and Anushka Shetty , academics from Stanford University and City-based Nimmagadda Foundation came together in creating an animation tutorial, whose English and Telugu CDs were launched here on Friday.

TeachAIDS, a non-profit organisation, founded at Stanford University by Dr. Piya Sorcar (grand-daughter of well-known magician P.C. Sorcar), developed the culturally-tailored animation materials after several years of cross-disciplinary research. TeachAIDS disseminates free of cost the animation materials which target young learners.

While the pilot version of the materials developed in partnership with international bodies were in use in 25 countries, the CDs were launched by the two actors who lent their voices and likenesses to the Telugu animations.

While Nimmagadda Foundation, a philanthropic initiative of Matrix Laboratories founder N. Prasad donated Rs.30 lakh towards creating the Telugu and English versions, VenSAT, an animation company based here and in Chennai, partnered in creating the localised animations at a subsidised rate.

Mr. Nagarjuna said he was pleased that the animation material would be accessible in every town and city in the State. From a six-year-old child to an adult, people across all age groups would understand it easily. He said it would make a difference in creating awareness among people. Mr. Prasad mentioned how the cost of HIV drugs came down after his company developed them.

Stressing the need to create awareness, Anushka said it was important to make youngsters aware about HIV/ AIDS.

Dr. Piya Sorcar said the images were grounded in biology and maximised clarity, comfort and learning. Giving an overview of the research in developing the materials, she pointed out to the limitations of traditional media campaigns which provided information in bits and pieces.

Dr. Clifford Nass, Thomas M. Storke Professor, Stanford University, who spoke through a video link from Stanford University, said the animation had a high degree of retention and closed gender gap in terms of imparting knowledge.

The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) gave its consent for distribution of the TeachAIDS materials as part of in-school and out-of-school youth programmes.

Actor and social activist Amala Akkineni also spoke.

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