HIV/AIDS prevention is regarded as one of the most serious problems of public health care. The prevention strategy for unique populations, like in the project initiated in Thailand, is aggravated by the necessity to study these populations, as well as find the most suitable approach for originating the effective social media, and public health-based prevention strategy.
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Most of the prevention programs that are intended for unique populations involve the study of the population, as well as assessment of the cultural and ethnic background of the target group. Definition of the unique population involves the high-risk group, including minority ethnic groups, commercial sex workers, as well as drug users and transvestites. Up to 95% of them are in the risk group, and up to 40% are infected. The increased risk rate of the Thai unique population is explained by the fact that some of them are linked with their work in low-class brothels, uncontrolled sex, and drug-taking.
The program is based on the principle of creating a conceptual framework associated with defining and targeting the unique group. This involves the principles of media advocacy, social marketing, and public healthcare. Considering the research by Svenkerud and Singhal (1998), the actual importance of differentiation the subgroups is explained by the fact that each requires an innovative and unique approach, as low-class brothel workers’ actions and behavior differ from the behavior of drug takers. Hence, ways of getting infected are different, and this should be included in the general conceptual framework.
The key theoretic basis of the prevention strategy is the use of diffusion of innovations associated with the communication processes, media advocacy, public health as well as psychological studies of the unique population communication and behavioral patterns. In the light of this fact, the key challenges of HIV/AIDS prevention are linked with the implementation of the theoretical frameworks for targeting the unique population.
Considering the conceptual frameworks offered by the diffusion of innovations principle, it should be emphasized that this has been already tested in San Francisco, however, the wide adoption and implementation of these principles requires the initiation of the innovative behavior for targeting the unique population. This is explained by the fact that these population groups are mainly closed, and may consider these innovations and programs as interference in their private life. (Bertrand, 2004). As it is also stated by Bertrand (2004), social media approaches are more effective than medical recommendations offered to the target audience. Therefore, if people are explained the danger of HIV/AIDS, and the simplicity of prevention, they realize that protection is cheaper and simpler then further curing. Additionally, some of them become volunteers for HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives.
Therefore, all the efforts, directed at targeting the unique population, should be based within the frames of social media concepts, and consider the principles of media advocacy, as target population of Thailand requires sufficient stimulus for changing its behavioral patterns that may become the reason of HIV/AIDS.
Social media based HIV/AIDS prevention program oriented at unique population were tested in San Francisco, and Bangkok. The results of the program implementation were higher in comparison with public health care initiatives that were performed without social marketing approaches.
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For more information contact:
- CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
- Phone: 1 800 458 5231
- TTY: 1 800 243 7012
Bertrand, J. (2004) Diffusion of Innovations and HIV/AIDS. Journal of Health Communication, Volume 9: 113–121
Svenkerud P. J., and Singhal A. (1998) Enhancing the Effectiveness of HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs Targeted to Unique Population Groups in Thailand: Lessons Learned from Applying concepts of Diffusion of Innovation and Social Marketing. Journal of Health Communication, Vol. 3. pp. 193-216.