Effective HIV/AIDS communication campaigns : a case study of an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign targeted at young adults at a tertiary institution.
This research emerges within the context of rapidly rising levels of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection amongst young adults and the escalation of deaths from the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This study critically examines the commonly used theories and models that guide HIV/AIDS communication campaigns. However, it notes that the broad ranging theories and models used during HIV/AIDS preventative and care campaigns emphasise communication linearity and individualism and therefore fail to acknowledge culture. In view of the multiplicity of cultural and language groups that exist in South Africa, culture plays a crucial role in HIV/AIDS communication interventions. Failure to acknowledge the cultural context in campaign theory has various negative implications. One is that, because these theories and models are linear, they are sender-oriented. The recipients are therefore unable to identify with the message as they are divorced from the context of its production. Furthermore, because of a lack of engagement by the recipient in the development of messages, retention of knowledge is minimal and this leads to a lack of acceptance of the message. Clearly then, there exists a need for these theories and models to be re-articulated so that they are less linear and individualistic, but rather more flexible so that they may be adapted for application within various cultural contexts. This study suggests that one of the ways of alleviating campaign linearity and including culture is by borrowing Paulo Freire's (1990) underlying principles of participation and incorporating them into communication campaign theory in the form of audience participation. Communication campaign theory would therefore include audience participation as a central component during its planning, implementation and evaluation phases. The appropriateness of this suggestion is demonstrated by applying it to and evaluating a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign targeted at young adults at a tertiary institution in KwaZulu Natal.