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HIV messages impact more widespread than initial intentions

Frederica Elbourne
Saturday, August 06, 2011

THE generous and good intention of HIV prevention messages and public health interventions can generate widespread consequences that range significantly beyond the initial stated aims, says the Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation.

The foundation said HIV prevention messages delivered through governments, NGOs, faith-based organisations and media coverage have had a lasting impact on people's perceptions of the issue of women and HIV and HIV-positive people.

The organisation said HIV prevention messages which were thought to be objective and delivered through non-judgemental programmes also unintentionally shaped ideas about what constituted normal sexual practice.

Women's Minister Dr Jiko Luveni launched a report by the foundation last month.

The report said messages and activities that raised awareness about the prevention of HIV heightened gendered tensions and exacerbated stigma.

"Early HIV prevention messages focused on death and powerlessness caused by AIDS and drew attention to risk groups," the report said.

"In the Pacific, the risk group categories formulated during the early response included sex workers, homosexuals and expatriates.

"The prevention messages often focused on the idea that AIDS equals death which may have seemed like an effective deterrent.

"Yet the fear and stigma they created has had a lasting effect."





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