Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Impact of an AIDS Prevention Video on AIDS-Related Perceptions

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Impact of an AIDS Prevention Video on AIDS-Related Perceptions

Article excerpt

Key words: AIDS prevention AIDS risk reduction Video People Like Us University students

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Parts of this research were presented at the Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association in Toronto, Ontario (June, 1997) and at the Canadian Sex Research Forum in Toronto, Ontario, (September, 1997). This research was supported in part by the National Health Research and Development Program through a National Health Fellowship to B.J. Rye. Many thanks to William Fisher for helpful comments on this manuscript.

The prevention of the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), is a major focus of public health promotion campaigns. Mass dissemination of information in an attempt to encourage the practice of AIDS preventive behaviours may be achieved through video media. Video media are an effective means of reaching a large audience and have been used effectively in public health promotion in the past (e.g., Crawford & Jason, 1990; Jason, Crawford & Gruder, 1989; Lau, Kane, Berry, Ware & Roy, 1980). Indeed, television programs have been listed as the most popular source from which young adults learn the most about AIDS (Abraham, Sheeran, Abrams, Spears & Marks, 1991). This learning may be the first step on the road to behaviour change that reduces the risk of HIV infection.

The 40 minute AIDS prevention video, People Like Us(1), is the focus of the current study. The design of this video was based upon the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills model (IMB; J. Fisher & W. Fisher, 1992; W. Fisher & J. Fisher, 1992a; W. Fisher & J. Fisher, 1992b). In short, this model suggests that there are three determinants of successful AIDS risk reduction behaviours: (1) information about AIDS transmission and prevention; (2) motivation to change one's behaviour in an AIDS preventive direction and motivation to continue engaging in AIDS preventive behaviour; and (3) behavioural skills required for the performance of AIDS preventive behaviours. The information and motivation components are thought to influence the behavioural skills component; that is, one must have information and motivation in order to enact existing skills. If one does not have the requisite behavioural skills, the information and motivation components may prompt one to develop or learn such skills. All three components may have a direct effect on AIDS preventive behaviour as well.

People Like Us was designed primarily to address the motivational component of the IMB model. The video was created in the northeastern United States as part of a joint American-Canadian AIDS risk reduction program. It focuses on young adults' sexual behaviour as an HIV risk activity. The video contains testimonies of six young HIV+ men and women with whom a target audience can easily identify. The people in the video tell the audience about their lives -- their likes and their dislikes, their goals and aspirations -- and then tell about how they contracted HIV. They describe the effect that having HIV has had on their lives. This presentation style allows the audience to develop a fondness for the people in the video and identify similarities between the HIV+ individuals and themselves. The presentation of similar others with HIV in People Like Us is thought to motivate viewers to take precautions against contracting HIV because of social comparison processes. That is, comparison of similar others with HIV to oneself should increase perceptions of vulnerability, increase the personal relevance of the topic, and increase awareness of the riskiness of unprotected sexual behaviour (Festinger, 1954). People Like Us was thought to provide a source of information about AIDS risk and AIDS preventive behaviours, as people are more likely to attend to similar others compared to other sources of information (see J. Fisher & Misovich, 1990). As well, the persons with HIV in the video discuss various strategies for AIDS preventive behaviours, such as how to introduce safer sex to a partner and how to discuss condom use. …

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