172002 More than disseminating facts: Using multiple communication modalities to break the silence around HIV in Kenya

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leah C. Neubauer, MA , Master of Public Health Program; Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Alexandra G. Murphy, PhD , College of Communication, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Gary W. Harper, PhD, MPH , Department of Psychology; Master of Public Health Program, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Augusta Muthigani, MA , Kenyan Episcopal Conference-Catholic Secretariat, Nairobi, Kenya
Julius Ruto, BA , Kenyan Episcopal Conference-Catholic Secretariat, Nairobi, Kenya
Amanda Gibbons, PhD, MPH , HIV/AIDS Twinning Center, American International Health Alliance, Washington DC, DC
HIV prevention communication campaigns have focused primarily on mass media messages provided through a one-directional, sender-receiver communication model. This model transfers information and can increase content awareness and message recall, but cannot guarantee that the target audience/receivers will understand the message as the senders intended. With a message ‘Avoid HIV—Have Safe Sex,' the target audience may repeat “safe sex”, but could have different understandings of what safe sex means. In response, this program implements an “intermedia” process, combining mass and interpersonal communication to promote public health awareness/behavior change.

Through a partnership created by the HIV/AIDS Twinning Center with funding from the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Kenyan Episcopal Conference-Catholic Secretariat in Nairobi and DePaul University in Chicago have formed a multidisciplinary team to enhance HIV prevention for Kenyan youth. The intervention occurs in urban and rural schools and includes a school-based curriculum and radio messaging campaign on a Catholic radio station.

Through multiple modalities the intervention provides accurate HIV/AIDS information, encouraging participants to refrain from high risk activities and break cultural taboo, talking about HIV/AIDS together and in the community. Teachers, parents, and community leaders who participate are able to clarify their knowledge and start conversations in their own communities.

To ensure that public health messages are received, comprehensive efforts like this are needed to help break silence around health issues. Programs which communicate complex and taboo health topics, such as HIV/AIDS, should focus on culturally appropriate dissemination and communication at multiple levels, utilizing varying modalities.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the critical elements of a health-communication campaign 2. Describe multiple ways that a communication process can help to ensure long-term behavioral change 3. List three benefits of ‘intermedia’ cross-cultural health communication campaigns

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Project Director
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.