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200920112012
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4 Mar 2009 - 31 Jan 2011
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Voices: Sou Butra talks about the impact of the campaign
Cambodia
HIV positive actor, Sou Butra, stars as himself in anti-discrimination advertisements produced by the BBC World Service Trust in Cambodia.

Butra is the director of Saving Action of Cambodia (SAC), a local NGO working to improve the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS, and to reduce stigma and discrimination.

Butra founded SAC after discovering that he was HIV positive.

Earlier, when people found out that a person was HIV positive, they would avoid them. After I appeared in 'Taste of Life' and the TV advertisements, people actually admired me.
Sou Butra
At the time he was a talented and much sought after actor, working in theatre and film.

Butra has played many roles, but none has made him as proud as his real-life role in the Trust's national TV advertisements.

Courageous revelations

All these years I have been striving to make people understand the effects of stigma and discrimination
Sou Butra
"Several factors have made me courageous enough to reveal my HIV positive status in the media," says Butra.

"All these years I have been striving to make people understand the effects of stigma and discrimination. How it compels people living with HIV and AIDS to hide their status. The suffering it causes when close friends and relatives become distanced and opportunities are lost.
"I've tried to explain that HIV cannot spread through casual contact. This was my chance to prove it, by revealing my status to all.
It could happen to anyone

After seeing my story people finally believed that HIV exists in Cambodia and that it could happen to anyone. Mine was a living example.
Sou Butra
"Earlier, when people found out that a person was HIV positive, they would avoid them. After I appeared in 'Taste of Life' and in the Trust's TV advertisements people actually admired me.
"People came to me and said, "Lucky you! You actually acted with the famous Hollywood movie star Jackie Chan! Hats off to you! This kind of support inspired me to do better.
"After seeing my story people finally believed that HIV exists in Cambodia and that it could happen to anyone. Mine was a living example."

Fighting HIV stigma and discrimination

Nowadays my friends, my neighbours and my wife's s relatives do not descriminate against me. They even share meals with me.
Butra discovered he was HIV positive eight years ago.

In the early years he saw how the darkness of ignorance and fear fostered discrimination. But attitudes have begun to change.
"In the past few years I have seen a change.
"Nowadays my friends, my neighbours and my wife's s relatives do not descriminate against me. They have a good understanding. They even share meals with me.

"I've found that education through the media, and dialogue with communities has considerably reduced stigma."
Through SAC, Butra wants to run projects that empower people living with HIV and AIDS.
He wants to use education and income generating activities to bolster their economic situation.
Interview with Sue Butra
More video & audio
Related links
Mr Condom meets Jackie Chan
Research and impact: Cambodia mass media campaign
Media campaign improves health in Cambodia
Our work in Cambodia
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