Swazi "Illicit Lover" AIDS Campaign Sparks Furor
August 16, 2006
AIDS activists are objecting to a government-sponsored AIDS awareness campaign that they say implies people with HIV/AIDS are promiscuous. The campaign, "Makhwawpheni Uyabulala," which translates as "Secret lovers kill," features pictures of mobile phone text messages such as, "Let's have a quickie, my husband's not around," and "come over now, my husband is out."
The Swaziland National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (SWANNEPHA) said the campaign -- which used national TV, radio and newspapers -- was insulting and would discourage people from disclosing their HIV status. Swaziland has the highest HIV rate in the world: 40 percent of adults there are believed to be infected.
"The campaign stigmatizes against people living with HIV and AIDS and seems to suggest that they contracted the virus because they were promiscuous," said Vusi Matsebula, national executive coordinator for SWANNEPHA.
The campaign by the government-backed National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS (NERCHA) was intended to discourage multiple sex partners. Activists argue that infidelity is only one of several factors fueling the spread of HIV in the nation of 1 million people. They cite the failure to use condoms as the main problem.
NERCHA's head of communications, Sibusiso Mngadi, called the campaign a success, saying it had sparked debate on HIV. NERCHA withdrew most of the ads earlier this month after protests by SWANNEPHA and the threat of legal action. Still, some spots continued on radio.
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.