Sesame Street introduces first HIV-positive Muppet

 

The South African version of Sesame Street has unveiled the world's first Muppet infected with the virus that causes Aids.

Kami likes nature, telling stories and collecting stuff and is HIV-positive.

The decision to publicise the disease on a children's television show has received plaudits from education officials and Aids activists.

"We are living in a society that is very stigmatising and discriminatory," said Mr Musa Njoko, an Aids activist. The introduction of Kami is going to create a culture of acceptance.

One in nine South Africans are HIV positive, more people than in any other country in the world.

"There is a critical need here," said Ms Karen Gruenberg, executive vice president of Sesame Workshop, the show's New York-based production company.

South Africa's Takalani Sesame is one of several locally produced versions of the children's programme.

The HIV-infected character was created at the urging of the South African government, which helps sponsor the show, to reduce stigma about the disease.

"Education is vital to ensure that people understand what HIV/Aids is," Education Minister Mr Kader Asmal said.

PA