| AIDS prevention through health promotion: Facing sensitive issues |
|PART 3 Increasing the credibility of the message: peers and patients as health promoters|
Part 2 illustrated the difficulty of making allowance for emotional reactions to AIDS in developing health promotional materials. This section examines one approach to solving many of the problems-the use of peers and patients for health promotion against AIDS.
Roger Staub describes a campaign to reduce high-risk behaviour among homosexuals in Switzerland, in which the chief protagonists were self-proclaimed homosexuals. The campaign led to the development of promotional material-booklets, posters-and a type of condom that met the needs of the target group.
Elizabeth Ngugi and Francis Plummer describe a project in Nairobi, Kenya, that brought together prostitutes to learn the facts about AIDS. The most knowledgeable were then recruited to educate others. One aim of the project was to encourage a large number of prostitutes to insist on condoms, so that clients could not refuse to use them.
John David Dupree and Stephen Beck describe how promotional projects are now using people who are HIV-infected, including those with AIDS, as educators. The physical presence of such people and their comments make educational sessions both more human and more effective. While most of the work is currently being done in the United States of America, the technique is also being tried in Sierra Leone, Uganda, and the Caribbean area.
These papers support the argument that in health promotion programmes on very personal issues, such as sexual behaviour, the person designing and delivering the messages and materials must understand the attitudes of the group being addressed. In terms of understanding and sensitivity, people who belong to the group itself may often be the best health promoters.