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HIV Intervention in South Africa: Awareness and Campaign

Introduction

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has caused significant global threats. These threats are imminent within most developing nations. The nations have encountered severe consequences of HIV infection. South Africa is one of the most affected states. Observably, the country has continuously faced the impacts of the disease. The country has struggled to deal with this pandemic from the periods of apartheid (Beyrer & Celentano 2007, pp. 15). HIV is a major contributory factor to high mortality. It also causes high rates of morbidity. Due to HIV infection, South Africa has increasingly experienced a reduction in life expectancy.

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High levels of maternal mortality have been noted. In addition, HIV/AIDS has also caused high levels of child mortality in South Africa. According to most investigations, a person’s sexual lifestyle is one of the most vital factors. This is because it can lead to an increased susceptibility to HIV infection (Klug 2012, pp. 300). There are other several factors causing a high-levels of vulnerability to HIV infection in South Africa. The government of South Africa has employed diverse strategies. This is in order to effectively prevent further spread. The paper discusses HIV/AIDS awareness and campaign as an intervention applied to prevent HIV in South Africa. It also examines the evaluation methodology applied for this intervention.

An Intervention That Has Been Used to Prevent HIV in South Africa

The impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is great. Most investigations by government agencies and other stakeholders provide critical insights. For instance, during 2009, an approximated 5.6 million individuals were infected by HIV/ADS in the country. It is clear that compared to other nations, this is almost the largest number of infected persons ever realized. Consequently, surveys have indicated increased instances of mortality in the country. This is due to HIV infection. It is also evident that South Africa has lost huge finances because of HIV infection. Particularly, this trend has been observable in the past three decades (Magadi 2011, pp. 525). There are notable variances in infection patterns among the different age categories within the country. For example, it is noted that the youth are highly infected. There are also observable disparities in the prevalence rates across the main provinces in South Africa. There have been efforts to mark a transformation in the history and pattern of HIV in South Africa. Several interventions have been launched to achieve this initiative. These interventions have had a remarkable effect on the infection patterns. This impact has also been observed in the health-seeking practices of most citizens.

HIV/AIDS awareness and active campaigns are the basic interventions applicable in South Africa. Basically, the provision of critical knowledge and facts regarding HIV is vital. It is important to note that this prevention approach has been applied both by the government agencies and other stakeholders. The government has struggled to provide basic services and information regarding the disease. The campaigns majorly target behavior change and adoption of a healthy lifestyle (Olesen, T 2012, 100). Various population segments are targeted by this intervention. These include adolescence and youth. Apart from these, married people, single parents, as well as the elderly, are also targeted. Through its various agencies, the government has designed critical messages appropriate for different age sets.

There is a notable utilization of different media in conveying HIV information. The fundamental concept in this intervention is the application of the “behavior change communication” approach (Rohleder, 2009, pp. 36). This enhances the rapid and pragmatic transformation in individual lifestyles. Presently, there exist several large-scale initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of HIV amongst diverse population segments. There are communication campaigns targeted at increasing the level of knowledge on this pandemic. Principally, the multi-sector approach is applied. This enables the communication or behavior transformation messages to reach a variety of personalities. It is evident that all social gatherings and learning institutions have been used as major ccentersfor conveying awareness messages. Increasing the level of awareness is an important part of the recently launched “HIV counselling and testing”, (HCT) (Youde 2007, pp. 41).

Different media sources in South Africa have played an important role. This is because the government and other agencies have engaged these media sources to create awareness. For instance, it has developed general discussion topics on the issue of HIV through the media. These discussions are available throughout the country (Robins 2009, pp. 5). Therefore, it is notable that a significant portion of the population is reached. Appropriate behavior communication methodologies have been applied for diverse age groups. For example, the use of celebrities and youth-friendly approaches has been applied. These tactful initiatives targeted age groups and specific population segments. As noted by most of the stakeholders involved in this intervention, the packaging of the message determines its usability levels. Publicizing is another important approach. Particularly, this is appropriate for the announcement of free access to basic support services. These services aim at the prevention of HIV infection.

Some of the basic services that have been publicised include testing and counselling. There is an eminent application of door-to-door approach in enhancing the awareness of HIV. In utilizing these approaches, the government has provided critical information about the pandemic (Youde 2007, pp. 50). These include factual information about its nature, acquisition, treatment, and management. Notably, this factual information has helped in the alleviation of myths and traditions associated with the incidence of HIV/AIDS. The health services dispersion points such as the health center, the clinics, or other big hospitals have also been used as key points. In this regard, they have been targeted as key points for the transmission of important HIV messages. The application of billboards and other public posters also include some of the important channels. The billboards conveying factual information about HIV infection and its prevention methodologies are publicly displayed. These displays are widely exposed in areas that are mostly visited by people.

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The “vox pops” methodology is applied as a strategy for enhancing the objectives of the project. They help to create HIV awareness (Kimani-Murage, Manderson, Norris & Kahn 2010, pp. 269). From this approach, listeners are able to get vital information on individual encounters with the pandemic. Apart from this, they also get empowered to expel the various myths as well as the stigmas that are frequently associated with the pandemic. The government set out strategic objectives during the launch of the HIV/AIDS awareness and campaign policy. For instance, it targeted to reach approximately half of its population with these awareness messages. In Africa, the issue of stigmatization presently causes a lot of challenges in the management of HIV/AIDS. This problem is also notable within South Africa. It is important to apply messages that fight stigma on HIV-infected individuals in South Africa.

“Khomanani” is an example of a common HIV awareness campaign drive in South Africa is (Black 2012, pp. 100). This stands for “caring collectively.” This awareness program has been in the mainstream since 2001. The department of health has utilized this approach for a long time to increase the level of knowledge and awareness within the general population. Apart from government intervention, there are other notable stakeholders that have engaged in upscaling this intervention. Some examples include the non-governmental organizations, religious movements as well as civil societies. To increase the level of awareness and rate of information transfer, the government also encourages and supports the establishment of local support groups. Various support groups currently engage in the dispersion of information. Furthermore, all sectors have stepped up their efforts in implementing HIV/AIDS education projects.

There is a remarkable integration of education messages based on facts about HIV/AIDS within the curriculum is (Youde 2007, pp. 67). Through this mechanism, the students are able to know about the realities surrounding HIV/AIDS. Consequently, they learn how to live negatively or positively amongst their mates. The role played by advanced information technology applications in enhancing this process is notable. Generally, various agencies within South Africa have used the internet as a medium for communicating these messages. The more globalized systems and personalities are able to access this information online. Furthermore, there are factual procedures on the managment of HIV/AIDS and other related complications within the internet (Rohleder, 2009, pp. 51). There is an eminent utilization of the radio and television in showcasing pertinent information regarding the pandemic. Critical initiatives have been observed. This is in order to help in the reduction of infection amongst the youth and students. For instance, the government has encouraged the establishment of various health clubs within schools. This is conducted in association with the relevant stakeholders within the education sector.

The “Soul City” initiative has extensively been applied to create awareness. It has also enlightened the young people on matters related to the HIV pandemic. Other than this campaign strategy, the “Soul Buddyz” is another approach that has been widely used to target the effective education of the entire adult population (Katsidzira & Hakim 2011, pp. 1125). The government has initiated intensive budgetary allocations for these ambitious interventions. It is approximated that about $ 13 million is allocated annually for these interventions. This depicts the extent to which South Africa is dedicated to minimize or prevent the occurrence of HIV/AIDS. The utilization of the print media in dispersing preventive information on HIV is notable. Various target groups have been identified through the print media. The development of “interpersonal education communication,” (IEC) material by different agencies is important. These IEC materials contain critical facts about HIV.

Generally, there is an eminent need for health education. This is because most individuals might have deviant and mythical perceptions regarding this disease. This is an important factor that is attributed to high levels of HIV infection within the entire African continent. These campaigns have also integrated the use of reproductive health strategies (Katsidzira & Hakim 2011, pp. 1128). This is because reproductive health is pertinent to an individual’s sexuality. Principally, such campaigns focus on the need to adopt appropriate sexual behaviors and overall wellbeing. The impacts of these interventions are notable. South Africa is already experiencing minimal new infections from this virus. Moreover, the level of awareness and factual knowledge about HIV/AIDS has significantly increased. This positive pattern is observable across all segments of the population. Indicatively, more advances are likely to be experienced in the future. This may be attributed to increased rate of accessibility and usability of information. In this regard, technological advancement has played a remarkable role.

How the Intervention Has Been Evaluated

Evaluation is an important process in an intervention. There are many benefits associated with evaluation procedures. For instance, evaluation helps to assess the levels of goal achievement within any project. HIV/AIDS awareness and campaign interventions have been appropriately evaluated in South Africa (Youde 2007, pp. 91). The government has applied various methodologies in assessing the success of this intervention. The first basic approach that has been applied by the government is notable. Demographic health surveys have frequently been applied by most government agencies. This approach has also been widely applied by other non governmental agencies. Demographic surveys are conducted in South Africa within specified intervals.

There are specialized agencies involved in the execution of HIV/AIDS surveys. These surveys normally aim to assess the level of knowledge of specific population segments concerning HIV (Robins 2009, pp. 10). Furthermore, there are basic intervention or project indicators that are extensively assessed. This helps to determine the level of achievement or accomplishment of the noted project deliverables. These evaluations are conducted nationwide. The investigations apply sophisticated statistical and empirical processes. These are able to elicit the different patterns and disparities. The basic assessment of knowledge capacities of various people or category of individuals is always done. This ensures that the existent knowledge gaps are adequately addressed. It is important to ensure the full engagement of the public in the evaluation exercises. Various government agencies have helped in the mobilization and interviewing of the relevant people. The interviews and discussions are normally aimed at assessing their knowledge and perceptions concerning the HIV pandemic.

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There are other important evaluation methods. These include the utilization of feedback and client data recorded within all health care facilities, (Rohleder, 2009, pp. 76). The relevant government agencies also receive quarterly reports from various agencies dealing in the fight of this pandemic. These reports are effectively utilized to note the disparities that exist. The various rates associated with mortality as well as morbidity from conditions related to HIV can be determined. Consequently, they form critical data for the evaluation. Qualified personnel must be indulged in the evaluation processes. For instance, communication and other public health personalities might be involved. The capacity to evaluate the competencies and knowledge levels of the youth is critical. Indicatively, the evaluation objectives are accomplished through baseline surveys. These surveys are mainly sponsored and supervised by the relevant government agencies. The government may also outsource qualified external expert. Alternatively, the services of established and reputable evaluation agencies may be hired.

There is great importance in indulging the services of an external evaluator. This enables ‘a proper and transparent process of evaluation (Robins 2009, pp. 25). The evaluation information might also be obtained from the various notable stakeholders. By engaging these stakeholders, the government and other relevant agencies are able to learn vital lessons. In conducting the evaluations, the investigation of diverse aspects of knowledge on HIV is critical. Epidemiological analysis and surveys form an appropriate approach towards meeting the goals of a comprehensive evaluation. The consumption of clinical data is important. It also refers to another approach that has been applied by South Africa to attain its evaluation goals.

Clinical information is normally available within hospitals. In addition, such information may also be obtained from other patient care and support centers. Monitoring processes have been utilized in South Africa to help in the evaluation of HIV awareness interventions (Robins 2009, pp. 30). Effective monitoring has enabled the government to assess the success of this intervention. This has been done for each phase and stage of project evaluation. Intensive monitoring of data has been conducted during the final evaluation processes. It is important to apply other related data from different or linked surveys. Several government agencies engaged in diverse health projects have utilized the sentinel data in various ways. These data have also been used in the examination of the efficiency of most interventions.

Conclusion

There are severe impacts of HIV pandemic in South Africa. The country has lost huge amounts of financial resources. This is due to the large budgetary allocations for preventive measures. There is an important need to address the challenges emanating from this pandemic. Notably, the government has executed different strategies to combat the disease. Awareness and campaigns include some of the interventions that have been applied. The interventions have been designed to comprehensively address the needs of the target population. The basic aim of these projects is to minimize the spread and impacts of HIV/AIDS.

References

Beyrer, C & Celentano, D 2007, Public Health Aspects of HIV/AIDS in Developing Countries: Epidemiology, Prevention and Care, Springer, New York, NY.

Black, P 2012, Laughing to Death: Joking as Support amid Stigma for Zulu-speaking South Africans Living with HIV, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 87–108.

Katsidzira, L and Hakim, G 2011, HIV prevention in southern Africa: why we must reassess our strategies? Tropical Medicine & International Health, vol. 16, no. 9, pp. 1120–1130.

Kimani-Murage, W, Manderson, L, Norris, A and Kahn, K 2010, ‘You opened our eyes’: care-giving after learning a child’s positive HIV status in rural South Africa, Health & Social Care in the Community, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 264–271.

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Klug, H 2012, Access to Medicines and the Transformation of the South African State: Exploring the Interactions of Legal and Policy Changes in Health, Intellectual Property, Trade, and Competition Law in the Context of South Africa’s HIV/AIDS Pandemic, Law & Social Inquiry, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 297–329.

Magadi, A 2011, Understanding the gender disparity in HIV infection across countries in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys, Sociology of Health & Illness, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 522–539.

Olesen, T 2012, Televised Media Performance for HIV/AIDS Sufferers in Africa: Distance Reduction and National Community in Two Danish Fundraising Shows, Communication, Culture & Critique, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 99–119.

Robins, S 2009, Mobilising and Mediating Global Medicine and Health Citizenship: The Politics of AIDS Knowledge Production in Rural South Africa, IDS Working Papers, vol. 2009, no. 324, pp. 01–35.

Rohleder, P 2009, HIV/AIDS in South Africa 25 years on psychosocial perspectives, Springer, New York, NY.

Youde, R 2007, AIDS, South Africa, and the politics of knowledge, Ashgate, Aldershot.

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