Witness: Rachel's HIV Revolution premieres on Al Jazeera English at 2230 UTC on 17 July 2016. The moving but surprisingly funny documentary follows Rachel Yameogo, who has been HIV positive for 24 years. She now has a husband and two healthy sons, but lost her first husband and daughter to the disease. This led her to found the group Help Me To Be A Mother and visit clinics across Burkina Faso to raise awareness to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their unborn babies.
In the last 15 years, new HIV infections have been reduced by 41% in Africa. But despite these gains, being ostracized because of HIV remains a real fear for the women Rachel counsels. This fear stops many from being tested for HIV when they find out they are pregnant. Normally in Burkina Faso, a baby is breastfed for 18-24 months, so some HIV-positive women also keep breastfeeding after 12 months to keep their infections secret, even though this puts their babies at increased risk.
The fear of being discovered is so bad that, as Rachel's colleague Alima Georgette Kafando says with a laugh, "There are people that, no matter what religion they are, they go and collect the medicine wearing a burka."
Laughter follows Rachel and Alima throughout the documentary, whether they're helping women to share their stories or debating how to bring up condom use in a conservative Muslim community.
"Some revolutions happen because of loud screams and great actions," says Rachel. "Others go forward in a slow silence. And in Africa, these revolutions belong to the women, because they know the value of life and they are ready to defend it."
Rachel's HIV Revolution premieres on Al Jazeera English at 2230 UTC on 17 July 2016 on Witness, Al Jazeera English's inspiring documentary series that brings world issues into focus through compelling human stories. The half-hour documentary repeats on 18 July 2016 at 0930, 19 July at 0330, 20 Juluy at 1630 and 21 July at 0530 UTC.
For more information, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/.