Health Communication In Southern Africa: Engaging With Social And Cultural Diversity ~ Introduction

Introduction
A focus on Southern Africa as an area where more and better HIV/AIDS communication is needed cannot be better underlined than by recent figures on adults living with HIV (15-49 years): In Sub-Saharan Africa the figure stands at 11%, whereas the global percentage is 3.25% (UNAIDS, 2008). The rise in these figures over recent years can partly be accounted for by the introduction of antiretroviral therapy, which means that statistically people living with HIV have a higher life expectancy.

Still, 67% of the global HIV prevalence in 2007 was accounted for by Sub-Saharan Africa, as was 72% of the global AIDS deaths (UNAIDS, 2008). The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa affects women more than men (60% of people living with HIV were female in Southern Africa in 2007; UNAIDS, 2008), especially regarding HIV prevalence among youth. It is within this context that this book wants to consider the role that health communication may play in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Positive outcomes of health communication
How can health communication benefit the fight against HIV/AIDS? This positive influence may apply at different levels. Communication is an important part of prevention campaigns like in the case of the ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms) motto, which could contribute to a decline in HIV infections. Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa typically affects women more adversely than men, gender relations form an important contextual dimension of health communication. Prevention messages have to be reinforced by the empowerment of women, enabling them to change their vulnerable position in sexual relations and negotiations.

Prevention and treatment go hand in hand and both aspects should be addressed in health communication. Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) is a desirable outcome for several reasons. If people are infected they can get treatment and guidance. The spreading of infections may be controlled by more knowledgeable and responsible behaviour by HIV-infected people. Being more open about VCT might also change the perceptions of people living with HIV. Health communication can take the form of campaigns for better drug regimens and adequate state support. People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) need to take antiretroviral medicine to avoid AIDS, and their Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) compliance might be improved by good instruction and motivation. New media technologies have created opportunities to develop support networks for social movements and non-governmental organisations working to ensure better access to anti-retroviral medicines for PLWA.

The best-known example of such a network in Southern Africa is the one built around the group Treatment Action Campaign (Berger, 2006; Wasserman, 2005). The portrayal of PLWA may be changed in a more positive direction. Mass media and government policies need to be analyzed critically to detect and change negative or undesirable social representations of HIV/AIDS, or of individuals or groups associated with the disease. Health communication may serve to counter stereotyping, vilification or marginalisation of PLWA in sections of society who are seen as undeserving of state support, e.g. prisoners, migrants, asylum seekers, or sex workers (Berger, 2006). Read more

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Health Communication In Southern Africa: Social Representations Of HIV/AIDS In South Africa And Zambia: Lessons For Health Communication

Abstract
For people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS various linguistic representations have arisen, which create discourses as coping mechanisms and as systems of significations in order to make sense of HIV/AIDS. The AIDS epidemic has invited scientific efforts to revisit language and its role in the construction, positioning and repositioning of identities within cultural systems. This chapter highlights the relationships between language, culture and human experience. In studying the linguistic constructions of meaning vis-à-vis HIV/AIDS, this chapter heightens our understanding of the role of language and meanings in the creation of stigma. The chapter shows that language use with regard to HIV/AIDS is not neutral but has an ideological function. It plays on existing ideological conceptions as well as brings novel discourses into the sphere of interpersonal interaction. The acknowledgement of the power of language is critical for health communication, especially in multi-lingual ethnic groupings, who share similar linguistic forms. People engage with HIV/AIDS in their daily experiences by using familiar symbols, images, words and proverbs. It is argued in this chapter that this discourse of representation hinders the progress of public health interventions, especially with regard to HIV prevention and treatment with antiretroviral drugs. Public health communication and health promotion cannot merely rely on ‘normative’ linguistic labels to persuade, inform or negotiate health ideals, using the taken-for-granted myths/assumptions about the nature of HIV/AIDS and its effects. Listening to, and adapting the audience’s appropriation of language, especially in contemporary times of HIV/AIDS, is important for audience-tailored messaging in order to achieve effective and meaningful negotiation with individuals and communities, so that collective efficacy is strengthened.

Introduction
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has covered the world in a cloud of despair. The Panos Institute expresses it thus: “so much energy for so little hope” (Scalway, 2002). By the year 2001, 36 million people were living with HIV worldwide (Piot, Bartos, Ghys, Walker & Schwartlander, 2001), while sub-Saharan Africa shared the largest burden of the disease (DFID, 2003; Piot et al., 2001; The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2004). By 2004, sub-Saharan Africa was home to 66 (25 million) of people living with HIV/AIDS (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2004). In 1999, this figure was representative of the entire population of Africa, 23.5 million out of an adult population of 268.9 million (Kelly, 2002). Contrary to the optimism of the Kelly-led report, the battle is far from being won (Kelly, 2002). Latest updates from UNAIDS give little hope of abating the epidemic, though stability is being recorded in some areas:

The global epidemic continues to grow and there is concerning evidence that some countries are seeing a resurgence in new HIV infection rates which were previously stable or declining. However, declines in infection rates are also being observed in some countries, as well as positive trends in young people’s sexual behaviours (UNAIDS, 2006). Read more

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Health Communication In Southern Africa ~ Edutainment Television Programmes: Tackling HIV/AIDS On The South African Broadcasting Corporation

Abstract
The last couple of decades have seen an increase in the use of edutainment to intervene in the socio-political problems faced by people in the developing world. Drama, soap operas and even children’s programmes are used to educate citizens about issues ranging from sanitation to safe sex. In South Africa today, edutainment is especially utilised to intervene in the country’s ongoing battle with HIV/AIDS. While many studies laud the success of these programmes, this article argues that the programmes are not without flaws. Though great strides have been made in terms of de-stigmatizing the disease in certain communities by encouraging open discussion and in some cases even nationwide policy changes, the often racialised, gendered and classist portrayal of people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS remains problematic. To some extent, much of these portrayals are a manifestation of the increasing ressure on South Africa’s public service broadcaster (SABC 1 & 2) to commercialise. This article explores the representation of HIV/AIDS on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (the SABC) in the context of the SABC’s increasing dependence upon advertising revenue.

Introduction
This chapter evaluates the role of the SABC in South Africa’s fight against HIV/AIDS through an ideological analysis of television texts and qualitative interviews. It asks what happens to HIV/AIDS when it is mediated through a public service broadcaster in a highly politicised country. In this respect, the chapter explores the extent to which the SABC functions as an empowering public sphere, with regard to HIV/AIDS intervention in South Africa. Can the SABC play an advocacy role in the fight against HIV/AIDS that would be true to its public service mandate without marginalizing certain groups or stigmatizing others? The chapter argues that the SABC’s role in the fight against HIV/AIDS is strained by the difficulty to develop focused messages for specific groups as the country’s history of segregation makes it difficult to distinguish and define risk groups and other addressees in ways that would avoid old apartheid divisions of issues, groups and people. This chapter therefore concentrates on the SABC’s constitution of audiences for development communication and the implications thereof for edutainment. Read more

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Health Communication In Southern Africa ~ Edutainment Radio Programmes: The Importance Of Culturally Relevant Stories

Abstract
The ways in which journalists frame HIV stories can strongly contribute towards news consumers’ perceptions of the epidemic. This paper discusses the news values of HIV radio programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa. It argues that the culturally appropriate ‘humanisation’ of HIV stories and the proper use of conflict as adding news value are paramount to the impact of stories. The skillful application of news values can make almost any HIV-related story newsworthy and therefore part of mainstream news. Moreover, it is maintained that HIV advocacy environments contribute to the newsworthiness of HIV stories in the media. The AIDS advocacy milieus of South Africa and Kenya are compared and related to the type of HIV stories that are published and broadcast in the respective countries. Journalism training methods are critically discussed in the context of the above. It is argued, that, in developing countries, where journalists often lack basic journalism skills, it is not sufficient to provide reporters with HIV-related information; HIV information sharing should be combined with general journalism training and mentoring.

Introduction
In December 2007, an excited Bashir Osman – a Somaligna-speaking journalist from Dire Dawa in the east of Ethiopia – broadcast a live call-in show on breastfeeding and HIV to his Somali audience on Dire 106.1 FM. According to the most recent Ethiopian government figures, Dire Dawa has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the country, and almost doubles the national average. Each year there are almost 1, 000 HIV positive pregnancies with at least 230 children born with the virus. Yet this was the first HIV programme that Bashir had ever produced.

AIDS was so stigmatised in the region that Dire 106.1 FM hardly ever discussed it on air. And Osman had no problem following this route. A week before the
broadcast, the journalist – like most of his listeners – refused to be in the same room as people with HIV because he “didn’t want to risk breathing the same air” (Osman cited in De Masi, 2008) as them. He would never consider sharing a plate, or hosting an HIV positive person in his home, and thought it a deep insult to be tested for the virus.

But then Osman accessed what turned out to be a precious piece of culturally relevant information: he learned that babies of HIV positive women can get infected with the virus through their mothers’ breast milk (personal communication, December 6, 2007). All mothers with babies in his community breastfed their infants … including his very own wife. His own five-month old baby could be at risk, he perceived with shock, because  neither he nor his wife knew their HIV status. The realisation changed Osman’s entire view on AIDS, and HIV was suddenly a virus that had the potential to directly impact his own life and those of everyone else he knew, in ways he had previously vehemently denied (personal communication, December 6, 2007). In short, this piece of information made AIDS newsworthy to Osman, his community and his editors. It became something that was crucial and worthwhile to talk about.  Read more

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Health Communication In Southern Africa ~ The Employment Of HIV Positive Young People For Health Promotion In Higher Education: A Case Study Of The DramAidE Health Promoters Project, South Africa

Abstract
This paper explores two essential questions related to health promotion and HIV/AIDS  education.

1: Do HIV positive health promoters and peer educators have positive effects on students’ health attitudes, behaviours and HIV stigma reduction?

2: Which programme characteristics have better effects on health education performance? The paper seeks to address these questions with relation to the DramAidE Health Promoters Project run at a number of Higher Education Institutions in South Africa. The project makes use of HIV positive young people to live openly as role models with HIV on campus, to break stigma around the disease, increase prevention efforts, and encourage testing for HIV and positive living with HIV. A project evaluation conducted in 2007 included interviewing students, staff and the HIV positive health promoters working at nine campuses across South Africa, and forms the basis for this study.

Introduction
This chapter introduces the DramAidE Health Promoters Project and gives some background on its history and the rationale for its inception, with an overview of the current situation and response to HIV/AIDS at Higher Education Institutions in South Africa. The Health Promoter Project is rooted in the fields of peer education and entertainment education, and this chapter explores some of the theories that inform those practices, as well as an overview of some of the literature on similar projects that employ HIV positive people.

The chapter then explores two areas of study, namely the effect that HIV positive peer educators have on other students, and the programme characteristics that have better effects on health education performance; in an attempt to highlight good practice in the field of health promotion and HIV prevention efforts in South Africa. Some of the data relevant to the DramAidE Health Promoters Project are presented and discussed, with conclusions regarding the successes, challenges and potential of this strategy.

The DramAidE Health Promoters Project
The social impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa highlights the need to ensure that communities band together to deal with all aspects of the disease. Social behaviour change theories suggest that it is most effective to educate, sensitise and mobilise individuals by addressing the community in which these individuals find themselves, and to make HIV/AIDS a community concern (UNAIDS, 1999b). A number of commentators on HIV/AIDS behaviour change interventions agree that behaviour change can only happen in a supportive context where individuals are empowered to act within the group (Tomaselli, 1997; Airhihenbuwa & Obregon, 2000; Papa et al, 2000; Kelly, Parker & Lewis, 2001; Tufte, 2002).

The Health Promoters Project is a project running in Higher Education Institutions across South Africa, where these institutions are seen as able to respond to HIV/AIDS in a strategic and focused manner, as communities that find themselves within other broader communities. It is understood that the Higher Education sub-sector in South Africa may be disproportionately more affected by HIV/AIDS than other sectors, as the majority of students found on campuses across the country are in the in the age group with the highest prevalence of HIV infection (SAUVCA, 2006). According to a 2000 study conducted by the research organisation Abt Associates, the rate of HIV infection at a university undergraduate level was estimated to be roughly 22. This was expected to rise to 33 by 2005 (Thom & Cullinan, 2003). Read more

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Health Communication In Southern Africa ~ Cell Phones For Health In South Africa

Abstract
There is widespread global use of technology in medicine and health communication, leading to terms such as telemedicine, telehealth and e-health. A wide range of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is used both in the provision of services, as well as for messaging and communication campaigns. In South Africa, limited Internet penetration has led to increased experimentation with cell phones as a tool for social change. This paper provides a discussion of three of such projects: The Teen SMS Helpline of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG); SIMPill which assists patients with compliance to their tuberculosis medication; and CellLife’s Cell phones for HIV programme. The projects are described, and the paper reflects on the general possibilities for using cell phones in healthcare, weighing advantages and disadvantages, particularly in the local South African context.

Introduction
The global trend of using new technologies in healthcare and health communication has made its way to Africa. A range of healthcare initiatives makes use of palm devices, the Internet, and other information and communication technologies, giving rise to the terms e-health, tele-health, and telemedicine (see Oh, Rizo, Enkin & Jada, 2005, for a literature review on the topic).

While the growing body of literature on this subject explores both the Internet and cell phones as ‘new’ media in the use of health promotion efforts, it is cell phones that are emerging as most popular, and possibly most effective, in health communication on the continent. Internet penetration in South Africa is increasing steadily, but the numbers of people with access to high-speed Internet connectivity here and elsewhere across Africa are probably still too low to allow the widespread success of Internet based applications, outside of telecentres set up specifically for this purpose. Recent statistics indicate that only one in 700 Africans has access to the Internet, versus one in four Europeans (Chakraborty, 2008).

On the other hand, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa has increased dramatically over the last few years. In 2007 Africa added over 60 million new
mobile subscribers and mobile phones represented 90 percent of all telephone subscribers (African Telecommunication/ICT Indicators, 2008). Indeed, cellphone penetration in Africa has increased rapidly since the privatisation of telephone monopolies in the mid-1990s (LaFraniere, 2005). Between 2000 and 2006, the total number of subscribers to cellphone services increased from 10 million to 110 million, in the 24 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and South Africa had more subscribers to cell phones than fixed lines (Buys, Dasgupta, Thomas & Wheeler, 2008). Similarly, an earlier study revealed that the number of mobile subscribers in 30 Sub-Saharan countries rose from zero in 1994 to more than 82 million in late 2004 and the rate of growth for the entire continent has been more than 58 per year (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006). Clearly, Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s fastestgrowing wireless market and the rate of growth for the entire continent has been more than 58 per year (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006). In South Africa, cellphone use is widespread, particular with the introduction of pre-paid services; and there are over 30 million users (Shackleton, 2007). Read more

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