Media as an intervention tool for HIV prevention among rural women
Date Posted : Wednesday, 01 Aug 2012
By Isaiah Esipisu, freelance science journalist.
It is now 10 years since Julius Keya, a Kenyan born journalist settled in the US. Yet, he still recalls radio programs that ran on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation radio about HIV and AIDS while he was at school in the 1990s.
“There were such programs like ‘Stitch in Time’, “Ties that Bind,’ and many others that I vividly remember whenever I hear people talk about HIV” Keya said during AIDS 2012.
He recalls songs like ‘Jichnge na ukimwi, wacha usherati,’ Swahili for ‘Be careful with AIDS, do not be promiscuous’ that was used in many programs on HIV as a signature tune. He also recalls a song by Princess Julie called ‘Dunia Mbaya’, ‘The world is not fair’ in Swahili.
“Such songs and programs that talked about the reality of HIV had, and still have a huge impact on my life. There was no curriculum focused on HIV and AIDS in schools, and this was the only way of learning about the disease,” said Keya. “Without radio, I wouldn’t have known as much,” he said.
His memories were echoed in a study presented at AIDS 2012. The report “Effect of media programs on knowledge of HIV prevention among Nigerian women: Lessons learnt from history” that concluded that the media is an essential and powerful tool in educating and mobilizing communities. Of importance was its particularly valuable role in promoting HIV preventive practices.
Dr Olumuyiwa Omobowale, a social scientist at the Ibadan University in Nigeria told delegates and the media that the study showed that media programs affect women's awareness and knowledge about HIV prevention positively.
“We recommend continuation and scale-up of such programs through all forms of media in order to achieve further improvements in HIV prevention behavior. But this has to be done in conjunction with other interventions, and targeted towards individuals with specific socio-demographic characteristics”, explained Omobowale.
The study analyzed responses from 10,000 Nigerian women between the ages of 15 to 49. It found that in general, 77.1 percent of respondents listen to the radio or watch television every day, while 41.7 percent have heard at least one radio or TV program on HIV and AIDS.
Among the respondents, 86.3 percent agreed that the media program on HIV had influenced their views on HIV and AIDS. According to the findings, lessons learnt from such programs on HIV and AIDS included the use of condoms, abstinence, treatment for HIV, modes of HIV transmission, faithfulness to one sexual partner, and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
In many African countries, studies have shown that radio remains the most powerful tool to communicate such behavior change issues among rural communities especially women, with community radio taking the lead.
More stories from Isaiah Esipisu on #AIDS2012
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