New Book Explores How Communication Can Combat HIV/AIDS
January 16, 2003
As governments and health officials look for ways to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in developing countries, they should not overlook the influence of communication, according to the authors of a new book. "In the world's front line of AIDS prevention, HIV/AIDS has been looked at as a biomedical issue," said Ohio University researcher Arvind Singhal. "We argue that the world has underestimated the role communication can play in reducing HIV infection in developing countries, which is a social, cultural and gender-related problem -- not just a medical one."Adapted from:
Singhal and Everett Rogers of the University of New Mexico interviewed hundreds of doctors, government officials, HIV-prevention program directors and patients around the world for their new book, "Combating AIDS: Communication Strategies in Action," published by Sage Publications.
The book details the global spread of the virus, pointing to factors such as political inaction, social stigma, and the overall lack of funds available to fight HIV. The researchers highlighted the importance of using communication strategies that influence government policy and gender relations, and harness the positive aspects of local culture and spirituality.
Two broadly successful communication strategies created from this program are entertainment-education soap operas and radio and television public health campaigns. Entertainment-education programs reach a large audience and can effectively promote HIV/AIDS prevention behavior, Singhal said.
"If a person keeps listening [to] or watching a soap opera, they start to identify with certain characters in an entertaining way that isn't preachy or didactic," said Singhal. "The best thing is that when the show is over, people continue to gossip about the characters and the message continues. Gossip is very important in stimulating action."
In addition to HIV/AIDS prevention, Rogers said communication strategies can be applied to combat other global social problems such as racism, illiteracy and environmental issues. "We feel that the model has broad applicability to other social problems, especially where stigma and prejudice are involved," he said.
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.