Drama Series “MTV Shuga” Increases Prevention of HIV/AIDS in Africa

“MTV Shuga” infuses an entertaining show with educational messages about HIV/AIDS and safe sex—and influences viewers’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior, according to a new study.

Preliminary results of an independent study by the World Bank have shown that “MTV Shuga,” a drama series produced jointly by MTV International and The MTV Staying Alive Foundation, has had a profoundly positive effect on knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of young people relating to HIV/AIDS and safe sex.  Through a randomized controlled trial with extensive data collections prior and six months after exposure to the TV series, the study revealed clear evidence that “MTV Shuga” affects change among youth.

The study was conducted in 2014-2015, with five thousand 18-25 year-olds from across southwest Nigeria taking part in the in-depth evaluation over a period of six months.

Topline findings show:

  • “MTV Shuga” substantially increased HIV testing. Individuals who watched the show were 35% more likely to report getting tested in the last six months. Immediately after the six-month data collection, twice as many viewers of “MTV Shuga” went to sexual health centers to get tested.
  • The chlamydia infection rate among females who had watched “MTV Shugawas 58% lower than those who hadn’t seen the show.
  • “MTV Shuga” improved knowledge about HIV transmission and testing.
  • Viewers were less likely to have concurrent sexual partners, and also engaged in safer sex with primary and non-primary sexual partners.
  • Viewers liked the TV drama and had good recall of its main messages after 6 months.

A fifth series of “MTV Shuga,” starring South African actress Mohau Mokoatle, set for the first time in South Africa, is due to begin pre-production in September 2016.

“MTV Shuga” is moving to South Africa at a time when HIV prevalence is up to 8 times higher among adolescent girls than among adolescent males (15-19 years old) in South Africa.  While the total number of AIDS-related deaths in all age groups fell by 35% between 2005 and 2013, AIDS-related deaths in adolescents increased by 50%.

About MTV Shuga:

Pioneered in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009, “MTV Shuga” is a long-running drama series and multimedia campaign that follows the lives of young people on the African continent. Aired on MTV channels around the world, the content is also offered rights-free to 3rd party broadcasters and content platforms, and used as a teaching aid by educators, healthcare workers and grassroots HIV/AIDS organisations around the world. Over four series, the drama has crossed the continent from Kenya to Nigeria and touched on numerous plotlines relating to HIV and safe sex including HIV testing, stigma, living with HIV, mother to child transmission, transactional sex, gender based violence and condom use.  “MTV Shuga” is multi-award winning, most recently winning the World Media Festival, Gold Award for Edutainment & Intermedia-Globe Grand Award (2016).  It is broadcast globally on 164 broadcasters in 73 countries.  In South Africa, it was the most watched drama when series 3 aired on SABC1.

To view full episodes of “MTV Shuga,” visit mtvshuga.com.