Cablegate: Results Report: Iip Speaker Andrew Petkun

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


E.O. 12958: N/A

1.Summary: Andrew Petkun, HIV/AIDS activist and
photojournalist spent a productive two weeks in
Mozambique lecturing and showing his photographs of
people living with HIV/AIDS to students and
journalists. Through this technique of showing people
the human face of the disease, he carried HIV/AIDS
prevention messages, as well as helped reduce the
stigma of the disease. End Summary.

2.Name of Speaker and Dates of Program: HIV/AIDS
Activist, Andrew Petkun, February 22 - March 4, 2005.

3.Summary of Topic, Venue and Audiences Addressed:
Petkun was programmed as an HIV/AIDS prevention
speaker in support of the MPP Global Health goals.
Petkun had a busy programming schedule during his trip
to Mozambique. His primary audiences were journalists
and students, though time was also carved out for him
to tour orphanages, clinics and hospitals, and for him
to take pictures or to address these groups, as
appropriate. Highlights included presentations to:
(i) over 100 journalism students at the national
school of journalism; (ii) over 100 medical students
at Catholic University in Beira, Mozambique's second
largest city and home to some of the highest infection
rates in the country; (iii) students at the newly
christened Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in
Matola, outside of the capital city; (iv) journalism
associations in Maputo, Beira and Chimoio; (v) police
in Maputo; and (vi) a public audience on his final day
that included National HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Joana

4.Audience Size: During his trip, Petkun directly
addressed a total audience ranging from 750-1000
people, though through media exposure, his messages
reached tens of thousands more.

5.Effectiveness of Speaker in Communicating Intended
Messages to Target Audiences: Outstanding. Though
billed as a photojournalist, Petkun uses his
photographs as a tool to become a powerful HIV/AIDS
activist. The use of his photographs clearly struck
home with Mozambican audiences around the country and
served to underscore his message that "no single act
of pleasure" is worth the pain and suffering HIV/AIDS
can cause. While Petkun does not have a medical or
public health background, his layman's evangelical
approach combined with the visual imagery of people
living with the disease is an effective prevention

6.Quality of IIP Support: Good. The only comment
post has is that the transmittal of the final travel
schedule for Petkun to post was somewhat delayed,
causing similar delays in the confirmation of his
program in country. Otherwise, communication was
excellent throughout the process.

7.Immediate Results/Impact: As demonstrated by the
high level of the media coverage described below,
Petkun's visit stirred a national debate about
HIV/AIDS. The fact that Petkun was in the country for
two weeks allowed for travel along the Beira Corridor,
home to the highest infection rates in the country, as
well as heavy saturation with media outlets across the
Southern and Central parts of the country.
Exceptionally notable were his presentations to
journalism and medical university students. Both
presentations were well received and were made to
audiences that are important to the continuing fight
against HIV/AIDS. Both presentations were extended
well past the original allotted time due to the number
of questions the presentations provoked.
After the initial media coverage, a scheduled visit to
a USG-funded project was canceled by the project
participants because of the photographs shown on
television. After negotiations between the Embassy,
CDC and the project, Petkun was allowed to visit the
site with the caveat that no photographs were to be
taken. While this example illuminates some of the
work that still needs to be accomplished to engender
leadership on HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, Petkun himself
noted during his trip that Mozambicans seemed much
more open to discussing the disease and its
consequences than he had been led to believe, and in
fact, much more so than many other countries he had
Also notable was his final presentation, which
included students, media, private and public sector
participants. Petkun challenged the government of
Mozambique, including the newly elected president, to
use its moral authority to combat the epidemic. Joana
Mangueira, the National HIV/AIDS coordinator, was in
the audience. She was clearly moved by the
presentation and gave a lengthy monologue during the
debate afterwards, indicating that Mozambique needs to
find similar innovative ways to convey the prevention
message to its citizens. She asked for Embassy support
in continuing Petkun's effort and in making it
As a side note, the smiles on the faces of orphans in
Beira when Petkun shared cookies his daughter had
baked and the applause that erupted from journalism
students when Petkun announced that the U.S. Embassy
would be providing pizza at the end of the
presentation demonstrated that public diplomacy often
relies on thoughtfulness as an inexpensive alternative
to other means.
To date, Petkun's visit has had a continuing impact.
Quotations from his final presentation scrolled at the
bottom of the screen a week after he departed during
the showing of "Let's Break the Silence", a popular
national television show dealing with HIV/AIDS topics
which airs on TVM, the state-run channel.

8. Press placement: Petkun's visit received
outstanding media coverage by television, radio and
print outlets, as summarized below:
Television: Petkun was interviewed by four television
stations on his initial day, including: TVM (national
coverage up to 2,000,000 people); RTP-Africa
(international coverage primarily to lusophone
countries); STV (Maputo coverage up to 1,000,000
people); and TV Miramar (Maputo coverage up to
Additionally, footage and interviews from Petkun's
final presentation aired on the popular Saturday
afternoon show "Let's Break the Silence" the day after
his departure, and the same show featured quotations
by Petkun the following week scrolling at the bottom
of the screen throughout the broadcast.
Radio: Petkun appeared on radio interviews four
times, including twice on Radio Mozambique on both its
English and Portuguese language broadcasts. He was
also interviewed on community radio stations in Beira
(up to 500,000 people) and Chimoio (up to 300,000).
Print: In total, ten articles appeared about Petkun
in the Mozambican print media.
Four of those articles appeared in the state-run
daily, Noticias (nationwide circulation of 25,000,
readership of 250,000). The most provocative of those
pieces was a March 4 editorial entitled "Sex: The Only
Pleasure for the Poor?" in response to the lecture
Petkun gave to journalists in Chimoio. Excerpts from
that article include:
"Andrew Petkun showed himself to be a profound expert
of the African mentality on HIV/AIDS. As an American,
Petkun better knows our weak points on this issue . .
. based on our cultural habits and their relationship
with poverty, ignorance and sexuality. He was,
without a doubt, one of the best at conveying a large
amount of knowledge to his audience as to how we must
behave as a people and as a nation in the prevention
and fight against this pandemic."
"It was an interesting lecture, and I think it will
help us change our mentality. All of us have already
heard of the illness, but, unfortunately, we still
continue to insist upon risky behaviors. Polygamy,
sexual abuse of minors, multiple partners, unprotected
sex, and alcoholism are some of the practices that
lead to the disease and must therefore be prevented."
On March 2, the weekly Embondeiro (circulation of
10,000, readership of 50,000) stated that "[t]he
American photojournalist took the discussion of death
beyond his black and white pictures. He also spoke
about the drama of AIDS to journalists at the
Mozambican Photography Association and passed them the
responsibility of spreading the work regarding
HIV/AIDS deaths."
Also on March 2, the daily Beira paper, Diaro de
Mozambique (circulation of 10,000, readership of
50,000), ran an article regarding the necessity of
confidentiality during HIV/AIDS testing, quoting

Petkun as saying, "[h]ealth professionals who cannot
maintain confidentiality when dealing with HIV/AIDS
issues must be dismissed because it is a crime to
disclose to strangers the HIV status of people who are

9. Comment: By any standard, Petkun's two weeks in
Mozambique were enormously successful, and the focus
on journalists and students proved highly beneficial.
Through the student audiences, Petkun impacted the
attitudes of hundreds of future leaders regarding the
HIV/AIDS crisis. Through the journalists, Petkun was
able to spread much needed prevention and reduction of
stigma messages to tens of thousands of Mozambicans.
End Comment.

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