This profile was prepared when Farouk Mohammed was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Mohammed is enabling Nigerians living with AIDS to acknowledge their illness to their families and communities, form support groups, and participate in educating a nation about their rights and needs. While this kind of attention to the illness has taken place in other parts of the world, AIDS awareness in Nigeria is in a nascent stage, and misconceptions and abuses of the rights of infected people are prevalent. In this context, Mohammed's work is a critical first step in mobilizing effective public support for policies that increase access to medical care, expose scams that promise bogus cures, and secure basic rights for those who are infected. Mohammed has been successful in convening people living with AIDS in ways that dramatically change their lives and enable them to inform appropriate regional, national, and international responses to the illness. He is bringing leaders in the groups into public forums, thus ensuring representation of people living with AIDS in forums at all levels. In addition, Mohammed is educating the public by participating in radio and TV programs to bring his story and the stories of others in his situation to a broader public.