Strictly Beza: Dancing in Ethiopia

An enterprising group of young people formed a group called Addis Beza, and are using music and dance to spread the message about HIV.

Today’s young people are the first generation that has never known a world without HIV and AIDS. In Ethiopia, half of the population is under the age of 24. Among the older generation, cultural attitudes towards sexual health issues are making it difficult for young people to arm themselves with the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe.

One enterprising group of youngsters in Addis Ababa, the BEZA Anti-AIDS youth group, are determined to use their combined talents for music and dance to get messages about HIV prevention across to the wider public, and in particular to their peers. The youth group members, aged between 15 and 20, have founded a dance troupe called Addis Beza, which means ‘to live for others’. Addis Beza perform regularly in popular public spots around Addis Ababa, using the occasion to hand out leaflets and encourage people to get tested for HIV free of charge. This way, people can know their status and be treated accordingly.

The Beza youth group is one of just hundreds across Ethiopia supported by Alliance Linking Organisation, Organization for Social Services for AIDS (OSSA). Its activities are supported by an ambitious multi-country project called Link Up, managed by a consortium of international and national non-governmental organisations led by the Alliance.

This article was written as the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, before we changed our name to Frontline AIDS.

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EthiopiaHIV prevention and treatmentLink UpSRHR