To Fight AIDS, Indian Ads Channel Manliness
March 8, 2006
Since last May, an advertising campaign designed to bring AIDS awareness to men in India has had the country abuzz. The "What kind of man are you?" campaign uses men's ideas about their roles as husband, father and protector in order to circumvent general cultural taboos, such as discussing sex openly, that make prevention work harder.
The campaign capitalizes on the male domination of sexuality and marriage in India, placing the responsibility for wearing condoms on men to protect their wives. It also shows the fear of contracting HIV/AIDS from a female perspective. There are 2 million Indian women with HIV/AIDS, and more than four-fifths of new infections are through sex with male partners or husbands. "That's why we wanted to talk about married women with HIV/AIDS, because all these women are getting infected ... by their husbands," said Mallika Dutt, the founder of Breakthrough, the New Delhi- and New York-based human rights group that created the campaign.
The campaign has run on satellite TV broadcasts that reach about 44 million viewers, on radio and in print ads. Breakthrough was unable to persuade India's National AIDS Control Organization to allow the messages to run on government television audiences, shutting out large segments of rural and urban poor from the campaign's message. Still, a campaign ad appeared in a question on India's version of the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
From initial responses, men in northern and western India understood and received the campaign well. But where HIV/AIDS rates are highest, in the south, men resented the idea that they did not care for their wives.
02.28.06; Aswini Anburajan
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.