Inside Story

by Discovery Learning Alliance, Inc.
Dec 22, 2011

Update for December 2011

 INSIDE STORY: THE SCIENCE OF HIV/AIDS is a media-based initiative designed to educate the sub-Saharan African public about the basic science of HIV/AIDS. At the center of this initiative is a unique feature-length film that brings together the best of fiction and non-fiction storytelling in order to unravel the mysteries of HIV. Audiences are engaged and transported to a vibrant, inner world where hard-to-grasp science is transformed into a compelling visual reality. INSIDE STORY’s aim is to demonstrate the science of how HIV works in a personal, practical, and memorable way. Misunderstanding is replaced with facts, demystifying the virus, and motivating informed health decisions.


At the center of many of the challenges in HIV prevention, treatment and education is a misunderstanding of the science. In addition, many organizations working at the community level confront significant HIV message fatigue. Engaging, innovative approaches are needed.


Using state-of-the-art animation, INSIDE STORY explores the dynamic inner world of the human body, revealing the unseen world of HIV. The film offers audiences an unforgettable experience – for many, a first look inside the human body, and a window into how the immune system, HIV, and antiretroviral therapies work.

Focus group testing in four countries found this illustrative approach useful across various levels of literacy and education.

Emerging from grassroots requests, stakeholder interviews, extensive research and focus group testing, INSIDE STORY was developed in collaboration with a diverse coalition of experts and activists. With no other African film or TV program currently focused on the basic science of HIV/AIDS, INSIDE STORY has a unique opportunity to powerfully answer this need and make a tremendous impact, providing stakeholders with a valuable tool to scale up education, prevention, and treatment efforts.


Kalu, a young man from rural Kenya, dreams of a professional soccer career. He moves to South Africa, begins a promising relationship with the coach’s daughter and is on the verge of soccer stardom when he learns he is HIV positive.

Kalu guides us through the progression of HIV in his body from the moment of infection to the effect of antiretroviral therapy. Through stunning computer animation, audiences actually go inside Kalu, witness the moment of infection and come face-to-face with HIV. We follow Kalu’s struggles on the pitch, off the pitch and inside his body as he confronts HIV.


A calculated distribution strategy extending over multiple years will provide the broadest reach possible throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Distribution will begin with premiere events to introduce the film to stakeholders in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, drive press and build public awareness. The World Premiere took take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, on December 1, 2011, World AIDS Day. Our film Director, Rolie Nikiwe, Producer Harriet Gavshon, cast from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, and the US Consul General to South Africa all participated in the event. On January 11, 2012, the North American premiere will take place in Washington, D.C. at the historic AFI Silver Theater.  Ambassador Goosby, the US Global AIDS Coordinator, the African Diplomatic Corps and other public, private and NGO leaders will be in attendance.  A premiere in Lagos, Nigeria, featuring Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Pirates of the Caribbean, 24) and another in Nairobi are being developed for 2012 in conjunction with the film’s release.

We are currently in discussions with top African film distributors and exhibitors about a theatric release that will reach urban audiences, drive broadcast and grassroots audiences, and increase press coverage.

Discovery World, a pay-television network available in 47 countries in Africa and the Middle East will air the film trailer (promotional spot) and behind-the-scenes shorts, providing the project with valuable marketing at no cost. 

The film’s largest audiences will come from free-to-air national broadcasters across the subcontinent. Our partnership with MTV International will enable INSIDE STORY distribution by 29 African broadcasters with a combined reach of nearly 300 million people. Broadcasters will be provided with split audio tracks enabling them to “dub” the film into any language.

Two versions of the film – a feature length version (90min), as well as a segmented version (3x30min) – will be distributed in English, French and Portuguese through an extensive network of government, non-government and private-sector partners. Our multi-year rollout and distribution plan is also designed to reach extensively into communities and populations without easy access to television. Grassroots distribution (through DVDs) will be activated through a growing coalition of public and private-sector entities, including YouthAIDS, Grassroot Soccer, CARE, PEPFAR, USAID, Africare, FilmAid, NERCHA, National HIV Council of Zambia, and DCGEP schools in Angola, Nigeria, South Africa, and beyond. These organizations and others are eager to use the film in their on-going prevention and education activities in clinics, schools, communities, and refugee camps.


Facilitator guides (which will serve as the DVD case) and DVD extras will be provided as a resource to community and public health organizations, NGOs, and schools in both urban and rural communities.

A dedicated Web site is being developed, extending the reach and impact to additional audiences. The site will include compelling, film related educational material, film trailer, the entire film itself (hosted on African soil to facilitate the best download speeds possible), a downloadable facilitator guides, links to partners and project advisors, FAQ’s, and a dynamic space where facilitators can map screening locations and share best practices.


INSIDE STORY was created through the generosity of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), USAID, Chevron, Access Bank, Discovery Communications, SEACOM, UNAIDS and in partnership with Management Sciences for Health and Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa.

Award-winning Team

INSIDE STORY is a production of Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership a nonprofit organization with 14 years of experience developing relevant, accessible media-based programs in Africa. DCGEP’s approach is collaborative, involving both experts and grassroots community members. This initiative brings together talent from Discovery Channel, one of the world’s most trusted media brands and Curious Pictures South Africa, a leading African production company and producer of such highly regarded social dramas “Intersexions,” “Tsha Tsha,” and “Heartlines.”


Initial research integral to this initiative was conducted in partnership with the Centre for AIDS Development, Research and Evaluation (CADRE), a non-profit, South African research and evaluation organization specializing in HIV/AIDS communications in Africa. Their studies included extensive literary research, focus group testing of a story treatment and script in Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Uganda. A rough edit of the film was also tested with audiences in South Africa. This research confirmed the need and utility of a science-based media tool, and has helped shape this initiative.

Key Project Advisors

INSIDE STORY has been developed in consultation with internationally renowned experts and activists from organizations such as USAID, FHI 360, Grassroot Soccer, Johns Hopkins University, Management Sciences for Health, World AIDS Campaign, World Health Organization, and UNAIDS.  


Danjuma Adamu, Mansur Tukur, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Nigeria, FHI

Taylor Ahlgren & Kirk Friedrick, Grassroot Soccer

Phillip Blose, University of Pretoria (student)

Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University

Lois B. Chingandu, SAfAIDS

Patrick Coleman, Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa

Clarence S. Hall, DrPH, Africare

Mitchell Warren, AVAC

Catherine Hankins, MD, Chief Scientific Advisor, UNAIDS

John Howson, MPH, RN, HIV/public health consultant

Krishna Jafa, MD, PSI

The Reverend Canon Ted Karpf, World Health Organization

Scott Kellerman, PhD, Management Sciences for Health

Kefilwe Koogotsitse, Erasmus University

Uttara Bharath Kumar, JHU - Center for Communication Programs, Zambia

Suzanne LeClerc-Madlala, USAID, OHA

Alex Margery, Tanzania National Network of People with HIV, FHI

Tim Mastro, MD, FHI

Pauline Muchina, PhD, The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS

Caroline Murbaira, Community Working Group on Health, Zimbabwe

Mwansa Njelesani, Office of United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa

Peter Okaalet, MD, MTh, MDiv, MAP International

Nina Oosthuizen, Channel E, South Africa

Bill Philbrick, CARE

Susan Plaeger, PhD, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Jeffrey T. Safrit, PhD, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Karen Shanor, PhD, psychologist

Robin Smalley, Mothers2Mothers

Carl Stecker, RN, MPH, EdD, Catholic Relief Services

Gary Svenson, PhD, USAID Southern Africa

Edmund Tramont, MD, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Marcel van Soest, World Aids Campaign

Derek von Wissel, MD, NERCHA – Swaziland


Distribution Partners



Community Working Group on Health, Zimbabwe

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

FHI 360

FilmAid International

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation



Johns Hopkins University - Center for Communication Programs

Ministry of Health and Social Services, Namibia

MTV International

NERCHA – Swaziland

National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council, Zambia

PEPFAR, Lesotho

PEPFAR, Swaziland


Provincial Government of the Western Cape, South Africa

WBS TV, Uganda

World AIDS Campaign


Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation

Evaluating Impact

CADRE will conduct evaluation and monitoring over a two-year period. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods will assess INSIDE STORY’s impact on audiences’ understanding of the science of HIV/AIDS, resulting behavioral changes, as well as the impact of this tool on existing HIV interventions.


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Organization Information

Discovery Learning Alliance, Inc.

Location: Silver Spring, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Ellen Henderson-Madhavan
Executive Assistant, Office Coordinator
Silver Spring, MD United States

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