Episode 07: Staying Alive!

A new episode of A Shot In The Arm Podcast is out!

I chat with Georgia Arnold, one of the world’s leading experts on communicating public health messages through digital and social media. She is the founder and Executive Director of MTV Staying Alive Foundation and one of the giants of the business response to aids. You may also hear the occasional bark from Copper, a mature Golden Retriever mix, who has been hanging out with us recently. He is a huge MTV fan.

Onto serious matters.

Georgia and I agree that the world is on “Code Red” when it comes to health and human rights. We are gobsmacked at how the US has backslid on women’s reproductive rights. She points out that when the US sneezes the world catches a cold, and sees a direct correlation between the recent US State legislature decisions to ban abortion and the increasingly regressive social and health policies across the world, including the shocking Kenyan High Court decision to affirm the illegality of homosexuality in the country.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: women’s and girls’ access to full sexual and reproductive rights - including abortion - is the most critically urgent issue democracy faces at the moment. If we let dark forces win this, they will take away hard-won rights in other areas, prevent long term action to save the environment, and disrupt society in ways we have not seen since the 1940s. Practical conservatives, angry moderates and principled progressives have to put differences aside, and unite to stop this brutal assault on girls and women.

A new feature of A Shot In The Arm is that we give a shout out the grass roots work happening across the US and around the world to defend the rights of girls and women. This week it is PPINK, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which provides access to high-quality healthcare, by reducing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and advocates for services without judgment. Check them out, and if you are able, please consider supporting them.

On a brighter note, Georgia and I explore how new digital and social media technologies, along with terrestrial broadcasting, can transform communities’ attitudes and approaches to improving global health, particularly with young people. A star in their programming is SHUGA, a TV drama about young Africans. It has shows in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa - with a spin off about to commence in India. MTV makes this show available across the continent, rights and cost free. It is shown on terrestrial and satellite channels. It has addressed PrEP, HPV vaccines for girls, pregnancy, and lgbt issues. A particularly poignant story is of Reggie (played by Given Stuurman, a young South African who realizes he is gay and we follow his coming out to family and friends. In the adaptation for a Nigerian market, the story is nuanced to downplay his coming out, reframing it rather as his fights with his father to be the creative person he wants to be. Noticeably, However - and with significantly greater ratings across east, west and Southern Africa, the You Tube story line is the unredacted South African plot. MTV has discovered that its audiences relates to Reggie - and has increasingly self-moderated the harmful, usually religion-based comments.

MTV Staying Alive’s SHUGA shows us that is possible to get people to get up, take notice and act on information that is good for their health. It does not have to be painfully paternalistic and patronizing, as much our public health information and education can often be.

Condom, anyone?

For more information, please visit:



If you are concerned, or want to learn more about HIV testing, prevention and treatment:





If you are concerned about unwanted pregnancies, and reproductive health justice:


In Indiana and Kentucky:


and of course…

Pet Shop Boys

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