Opinion
Behaviour Change Communication can fight HIV among youth
Publish Date: Nov 30, 2012
newvision
  • mail
  • img

By Faridah Luyiga
 
Youth under the age of 30 constitute 78 % or more than three quarters of Uganda’s population (Youth Map Uganda 2011). With majority of the country’s productive population in this sexually active age group, HIV prevention programmes should pay special attention to them to prevent devastating effects the disease can have on the country. 
 
The National HIV Prevention Strategy (NPS) 2011-2015 indicates that sexual behaviour continues to be at the root of HIV transmission in Uganda. As Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate World AIDS Day, emphasis should be put on influencing the youth to adopt positive behaviours that reduce their risk to HIV/AIDS.  
 
Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) aims at supporting an individual to adopt and maintain a positive behaviour and the NPS 2011-2015 highlights BCC programmes as key in reducing HIV infection. 
 
Results of the 2011 Uganda AIDS Indicator survey show that 3.7% of women and men aged 15-24 years are HIV positive. As we move towards “Getting to zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths,” by 2015, let’s borrow ideas from some programmes that have greatly impacted youth.
 
Initiatives involving the use of BCC to curb the high HIV/AIDS prevalence in Uganda (7.3%) have had positive impact. A case in point is Young Empowered And Healthy (Y.E.A.H), an initiative of the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) for and by young people, 15-24 year olds. 
 
The initiative, which was implemented by Communication for Development Foundation Uganda (CDFU) from 2004 to 2012 on behalf of UAC, utilised multi-channel social and behaviour change communication campaigns for youth in Uganda, with the aim of reducing new HIV infections, early pregnancies and early school leaving. 
 
Statistics from the eight year project which ended in April 2012 have shown that Y.E.A.H’s centre piece, Rock Point 256, a 30 minute weekly radio serial drama broadcast on 16 radio stations across the country involved characters who modelled positive behaviours that influenced the sexual and reproductive health attitudes, knowledge, intentions and practices of the youth over time. 
 
According to Ipsos Synovate, a research and media monitoring firm, over six million youth listen to Rock Point 256. The radio drama is designed to get people talking about different behaviours that put the youth at risk of HIV/AIDS. 
 
Some of these include “something for something love”, what it means to be a man, HIV, alcohol abuse, violence against women, family planning, and communication between adults and young people. 
 
The campaigns under the Y.E.A.H initiative have engaged the public and generated debates through commentaries, letters and listeners calling in at radio stations.
 
Youth sexual behaviour is one of the  catalysts of the rising HIV prevalence. 
 
Many youth love experimenting with  sex, alcohol and drugs, behaviours that put them at risk of HIV. They also lack basic information about HIV.
 
Avail ing them with necessary information through different fora such as radio programmes with role models, community outreaches as well as Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials will enable them make more informed decisions. This will also allay the misconceptions about HIV among youth. 
 
Parents/guardians too can make a difference by offering the necessary guidance to protect the youth from behaviours that expose them to HIV. They can encourage the youth to stay in school until when they are ready to start marriage. In addition, they should offer financial and moral support to prevent them from engaging in transactional sex. 
 
While abstinence is important, information to the youth should go beyond preaching this. It should be aimed at delaying sexual debut, avoiding unsafe, cross generation or transactional sex and avoiding multiple or concurrent partners.
 
Making such IEC programmes part of the school curriculum or community initiatives aimed at fighting HIV will go a long way in reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence among this vulnerable, yet productive group of our population.
 
The writer is a MakSPH-CDC Fellow at CDFU

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Poverty and greed: the major culprits of environmental degradation
Our standards of living are based on inexpensive energy in the form of electricity and gasoline powering automobiles that are the major contributors to environmental problems in the world today, but let us not forget that earlier in history; automobiles were actually heralded for solving a distinct...
Climate change: The Impossible deal
For “shall”, substitute “may”. For example, change “countries signing this climate change treaty SHALL state how much they are going to cut their greenhouse emissions” to “countries signing this climate change treaty MAY state how much they are going to cut their emissions if they feel like it, but...
Who really cares about the Ugandan girl?
The UCE and UACE 2014 public examinations are now done with and the other classes are at home for Term Three holidays. The students from the secondary schools especially have flooded our localities. Most conspicuous of them will be the girls; but who cares?...
A delegate conference is not a pilgrimage
At the last NRM delegate’s conference held at Namboole, the National Executive tabled a motion regarding the period at which the holding of a delegate’s conference should be....
Corruption: they that are not corrupt can hurl the stones
So the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Uganda 142nd out of 175 countries, according to Transparency International. Based on expert opinion, Transparency International says our level of public sector dishonesty is 26 out of 100. Denmark is the most transparent with a score of 92/100 while So...
The evil of deforestation
Africa is facing very many problems but few have been solved. One of the major ones is environmental degradation through deforestation. Deforestation is having a big impact on the environment....
Do you agree with the ban on the export of maids?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter