An assessment of students' perceptions of the ABC prevention strategy : toward students' participation in HIV/AIDS message design at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Moodley, Eliza Melissa.
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In South Africa there are general studies that aim to understand HIV prevalence and specific surveys for target groups. However there is a gap in research that relates particularly to university students active participation in HIV/AIDS prevention messaging. This study explores the use of the Communication for Social Change (CFSC) theory with students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. The study takes the form of a survey, using researcher administered questions with 400 students at the Westville and Howard College campus to understand their perceptions of the 'Abstinence, Be faithful and Condomise' prevention strategy. Two focus groups were conducted at both campuses to further analyse the survey findings, with a particular reference to the use of dialogue to actively engage students in discussions about HIV/AIDS prevention messages. The study traces the origin of CFSC through a review of the development communication theories (which include modernization theory, dependency theory, development support communication and another development). The survey revealed that students were not supportive of programmes with a top-down flow of communication. Students at both campuses welcomed the role that dialogue could play to encourage student participation in the design of a new HIV/AIDS prevention message. Some of the findings from the survey showed that 91% of students at both campuses motivated in favour of students as active participants in HIV/AIDS communication processes. The findings from the focus group also revealed that students did not find the ABC message effective, and strongly promoted a revision of this message which should include 'accountability' and 'responsibility' as part of the HIV/AIDS prevention strategy.