“No Pasa Nada”

By Noreen Giga, KF 14, Peru

I first heard this phrase while studying abroad in Spain my junior year of college. My friends and I said “no pasa nada” every other sentence when we realized there was really no limit as to when this phrase could be used. Walk in on someone in the bathroom? “No pasa nada” would be the response. Bedridden with a cold? “No pasa nada.” Walk in late to class because you overslept? “No pasa nada.”

“No pasa nada” has taken on a new meaning to me now, preventing HIV discrimination in Peru. I was heading to Cajamarca, Peru to celebrate Carnival; and on the 17 hour bus ride I noticed an ad running on the TV about HIV/AIDS. It explained how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, dispelling the common myths that it can be caught by holding hands, kissing, from sharing utensils, or from using the same bathrooms, pools, gyms and other myths that still exist. The end of the ad directs you to the website, www.nopasanada.pe. My ears perked up. “No pasa nada,” the popular phrase that I have grown to love was now being used to stop HIV/AIDS discrimination in Peru, brilliant!

I am a public health nut and seeing this ad campaign launched by Peru’s Ministry of Health reinforced my passion for public health and health communication.  The full campaign is called “No pasa nada, discriminar es absurdo.” Watch a short news clip about the campaign in Spanish. A woman talks about how parents pull their children out of school out of fear that they could “catch” HIV from other students.

“No pasa nada” has a wide array of meanings, “nothing happened,” “don’t worry about it,” “no problem,” “no big deal,” “it’s ok,” etc. I think you see where I am going with this, never ending, which explains why it is used so much in conversation. But in this case, I would consider the English translation of the campaign to be “Nothing is going to happen, discrimination is ridiculous.”

The goal of this campaign is to promote tolerance for people living with HIV/AIDS by eliminating common myths of HIV transmission. The campaign is four-fold – running advertisements in print, on the radio, on TV and on the internet. Through education the Ministry of Health hopes to reduce discrimination facing people with HIV/AIDS at work, school, in the health field, and in family and other personal settings.

Peru has experienced an increase in the number of people diagnosed with HIV over the past eight years. One of the possible explanations for this increase is the same as it is for countries like the United States; that from lack of education or improvement in medical treatment, people no longer see HIV/AIDS as a threat. But regardless of the reasons, Peru recognizes there is an increase in HIV/AIDS diagnoses and is actively addressing its citizens to promote tolerance for those living with the virus. Peru is working to end discrimination for people living with HIV/AIDS, “no pasa nada.”

Noreen is a Kiva Fellow working with Microfinanzas Prisma in Lima, Peru. Join Kiva’s brand new lending team, Friends of Microfinanzas Prisma, today and connect with the wonderful staff of Prisma and all of us who support their work!

Previous Posts by Noreen Giga:
Is it ever too late to follow your dream?
What does Lima look like?

About the author

Noreen Giga