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close this bookHIV/AIDS and Communication for Behavioural and Social Change: Programme Experiences, Examples, and the Way Forward (UNAIDS, 2001, 68 p.)
close this folderCommunicative Challenges for HIV/AIDS
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View the documentCase: The Entertainment-Education Strategy: From Private Closets to Public Discourse


There are many communicative challenges to HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and support. A glance at some of the key challenges will show that:

(1) Communication is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for either preventing HIV/AIDS or for augmenting care and support programmes.

(2) An individual’s response to HIV/AIDS is strongly influenced and shaped by societal norms; by their gender and socio-economic status; by their faith, beliefs, and spiritual values; and by the prevailing governmental and policy environment for HIV/AIDS.

Communicative challenges to HIV/AIDS exist because:


· invisible (for several years)
· silent (for several years)
· non-debilitating (for several years)
· infectious
· multiple transmission modes
· non-discriminating (e.g. in terms of age, gender, geography, etc.)

B. HIV/AIDS deals with human behaviours:

· that often involve interaction between unequal parties (e.g. a paying client versus a poor commercial sex worker)

· that are shaped by deep-rooted socio-cultural traditions (e.g. patriarchy, circumcision)

· that are private and personal (e.g. sex, drug use)

· that are recurring

· that are pleasurable

· that satisfy physiological, psychological, and socio-affiliative needs

· that are considered taboo by society, therefore not easily discussed

· that are moralized by society

· that are stigmatised by society

· that are discriminated against by society

C. Efficacious responses to HIV/AIDS involves adoption of behaviours:

· that are dependent on compliance of more than one party (e.g. condom use)

· that are dependent on the availability of products (e.g. condoms) and services (e.g. HIV testing).

· that are preventive in nature (i.e. involve adopting a behaviour today to lower the probability of some future unwanted event)

· that involve benefits that are neither imminent nor clear-cut

· that result in a non-event (that is, nothing happens when one adopts; so motivation for maintaining behaviour change is low)

· that involve foregoing or reducing pleasure

· that involve foregoing or reducing adventure (Singhal 2000a)

D. HIV/AIDS deals with populations:

· that are often hard to reach by conventional media channels

· who are often marginalized by society,(for instance, gays, IV drug users, commercial sex workers)

· who are most vulnerable and powerless (for instance, women and children)

· who are of a lower socio-economic status

· who are on the move (migrants, truck-drivers) and not easy to target (Svenkerud, Singhal, & Papa, 1998)