Should we mix HIV with ABCs?

As the children’s show Sesame Street celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, the website  Global Voices Online took some time to reflect on the cute, cuddly Muppet named Kami. The golden-yellow Kami is part of the South African edition of Sesame Street and is the world’s first HIV-positive Muppet.

Sesame Street is seen in over 140 countries and each version addresses local issues and has different Muppets. Kami made her debut on the South African Sesame Street co-production, called Takalani Sesame, in 2002 in response to the country’s HIV/AIDS problem. South Africa is believed to have the highest number of people infected with HIV in the world — an estimated 5.7 million people. Approximately 280,000 of those infected are children 14 and younger.

Kami helps educate kids about the disease and confronts issues related to being HIV-positive. In addition to the physical complications of having HIV, there’s also the stigma that comes with having the disease, which makes it harder for people to receive adequate treatment and support. The name Kami is derived from the Setswana word “Kamogelo,” meaning “acceptance.”

Though she’s proven to be a successful character, Kami has never appeared on the American Sesame Street and some people are outraged at the suggestion. What do you think?

Do you believe adding a character like Kami to Sesame Street or other popular shows for kids would help educate youngsters on HIV and its effects or is this topic inappropriate and too complicated for a children’s show?  



  1. I think Kami would be good as a guest on Sesame Street. It’s good to teach children about awareness and acceptance, just as Sesame Street has already taught about disabilities, illness, and race. American children are not as directly affected by HIV/AIDS as children in South African so I’m not sure if Kami would be a good full time character.

  2. Kami is needed on so many levels here in America. There are children who have HIV and the parents refused to tell them the truth. Seeing a positive image of a child afflicted with the same condition will be empowering. Society needs to accept the fact that HIV affects all ages and we need to educate everyone about their lifespan. We need to welcome them just as we have welcomed and accept cancer patients

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