MTV and MySpace join forces to promote HIV awareness

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MTV Networks International and MySpace have announced the launch of Untold Stories, an interactive story-writing competition.

The initiative brings a number of potentially risky HIV-related scenarios to life, in the form of creative narrative and has already attracted voluntary participation from well known actors, authors and journalists.

The unusual approach aims to capture the attention of today’s youth, who are increasingly at risk of contracting the virus.

In 2007 those aged 15-24 accounted for nearly half of all new infections.

Gautam Malkani, author of The New York Times bestseller Londonstani, Jimmy Jean Louis, star of hit TV show Heroes and Emma Gold, author of Easy, have all contributed exclusive short stories to the project.

Each one conveys a specific HIV awareness message and covers often overlooked areas relating to infection, including violence and young people’s perception of risk.

The authors have purposely left the stories unfinished, leaving young people to decide what happens next.

Leading Hollywood actors Selma Blair, Ashley Judd and Idris Elba, along with hip-hop and R&B superstars Ludacris and T-Pain have all leant their voices to the engaging stories, which can be viewed online.

The competition is open until September 2nd – and will be promoted on-air across MTV’s International channels.

One winning script from all submissions through MySpace will be made into a short film which will be aired on MTV channels on World AIDS Day, December 1st 2008.

The winner will also get to present the finished film at a World AIDS Day event in India, made possible through a partnership with The World AIDS Campaign.

Rapper Ludacris said in a press statment: “I’m honoured to be involved in such an innovative project.  Not only is it a great interactive way for young people to learn about such an important issue, it also allows them to think about it from different perspectives.

“I believe that it’s everyone’s duty to be involved in this fight.”

The launch of Untold Stories ties in with the International AIDS conference, taking place  in Mexico City until 8th August.

At the conference MTV and MySpace are spearheading a second awareness-raising initiative: The Big Question, asking “Why, when the risks are known, are young people still having unsafe sex?”

The initiatives are part of MTVNI’s Staying Alive Campaign, launched in 1998.

The campaign is one of the world’s largest multimedia global HIV and AIDS prevention campaigns.