Interpersonal and Mass Media Campaign for HIV/AIDS Prevention: An Integrated Approach

Article excerpt

In the absence of a vaccine for therapeutic cure, education through effective interpersonal and mass communication strategies is a 'Social Vaccine' against HIV/AIDS prevention (Population Report, 1989). Although the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been identified as the etiological agent causing AIDS, transmission of this virus depends largely on human behaviour related to sexuality and drug use. Communication can play a significant role in preventing high risk behaviour and creating awareness among target population.

Simons-Morton, Donohew, & Crump (1997) points out that a one-dimensional approach to health promotion, such as reliance on mass media campaigns or other single-component communication activities, has been shown to be insufficient to achieve programme goals. This argument is further strengthened by Charles Salmon, who states that:

a common problem with many campaigns is that they are thought of as being "mass media only" campaigns, which is problematic in two respects. Thinking vertically, such as conceptualisation results in an extensive reliance on mass communication to the exclusion of other levels of communication, such as organisational and interpersonal. Effective campaigns have tended to supplement mass communication with a variety of other forms, particularly interpersonal. Thinking horizontally, the second problem with the "mass media only" conceptualisation is that it results in an excessive reliance on communication to the exclusion of other forms of social change, such as strategies involving the application of power, engineering, or financial support. Effective campaigns are those that have been supplemented communication with alternative strategies perhaps better suited for different audience segments and different types of social problems. (Backer, Rogers, & Sopory, 1992).

Therefore, an integrated communication approach is highly desirable for effective motivation and behaviour change. Although the basic steps in planning and execution of interpersonal and mass media campaigns are identical yet the communicator should realise the mandate of each campaign and must properly plan, implement and evaluate the requirements of each step to get the desired results.

The basic purpose of this study is to integrate interpersonal and mass media campaigns for HIV/AIDS prevention and to evaluate and analyse the comparative effectiveness of integrated approach in the context of various steps involved in communication campaign design. In addition, this paper proposes a model for Integrated Communication for Behaviour Change (ICBC Model) (1)

Theoretical Framework for Interpersonal and Mass Media Campaign Design for HIV/AIDS Prevention

Most theories and models applied in HIV/AIDS campaigns focus on individual and collective behaviour of the audiences and are derived from social psychology, communication, population studies, family planning and development studies. Many theories and models of health behaviour change, including reasoned action, social penetration, elaboration likelihood model, diffusion of innovation, social learning', cognitive theory, and the hierarchy of effects, are based on individual and group psychology.

These theories and models are still valid and widely used in interpersonal and mass media campaigns despite the criticism regarding the growth of the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the globe. Moreover, theories and models for health communication in general and HIV/AIDS prevention in particular are extracted from both interpersonal and mass communication theoretical domains.

The following theories help the campaign designers to lay down the foundation for HIV/AIDS prevention programme.

The health belief model

The health belief model was developed in the 1950s and is based on value expectancy theory (Melkote & Steeves, 2001), which assumes that individuals will take preventive actions (risk-reduction behaviours) when they are susceptible to a disease (self-perception of risk) and acknowledge the consequences as severe; they believe that taking preventive actions will be beneficial in reducing the threat of contracting the disease (e. …