HIV Prevention in Africa

HIV Prevention in Africa

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HIV prevention in Africa

A continuing rise in the number of HIV infected people is not inevitable. There is growing evidence that prevention efforts can be effective, and this includes initiatives in some of the most heavily affected countries.

One new study in Zambia has shown success in prevention efforts. The study reported that urban men and women are less sexually active, that fewer had multiple partners and that condoms were used more consistently. This is in line with findings that HIV prevalence has declined significantly among 15-29 year-old urban women (down to 24.1% in 1999 from 28.3% in 1996). Although these rates are still unacceptably high, this drop has prompted a hope that, if Zambia continues this response, it could become the second African country to reverse a devastating epidemic.

This suggests that awareness campaigns and prevention programs are now starting to work. But a major challenge is to sustain and build on such uncertain success.

What form should AIDS education take?

Peer education

A social form of education without classrooms or notebooks, where people are educated outside a 'school' environment but still have the opportunity to ask questions.

Most peer education focuses on providing information about HIV transmission, answering questions and handing out condoms to people in a workplace, perhaps in a bar, or where a group of women gather to wash clothes.

Most peer educators make contact with their target audience at least weekly and their sessions will usually be in the context of informal discussions with individual people or within a group.

Active learning

Active learning can sometimes link into peer education, especially when AIDS education is aimed at young people, as one of the best methods of learning something oneself is to teach it to others.

Blanket education

A general message aimed at the population as a whole. Blanket education usually aims to inform the population about which behaviors are risky and to give them support in changing these behaviors.

Targeted education

This type of strategy is usually used to speak to social groups who are perceived as being at a high risk of HIV infection. It focuses on risky activities particular to the specific target group.


January of 2000 kicked off the campaign to literally help keep Africa Alive! in the new millennium.

The Mission of the Africa Alive! campaign is to give youth the skills they need to fight against HIV/AIDS. The vision is a new generation of Africans who are HIV/AIDS-free.

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The operation principles of Africa Alive! are to create an African network where youth HIV/AIDS prevention programs at all levels can share ideas, have a universal, focused strategy and seek funding for their programs.

With support from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs (JHU/CCP), the Africa Alive! network will help organizations that have formerly been working on their own.

The strategy for Africa Alive! encourages young people not only to learn and talk about HIV/AIDS, but also to make the choice to adopt safer sexual behaviors.

With staff in 26 countries, JHU/CCP has developed and managed over 300 country-based projects and contracts in 47 countries, involving more than 200 local organizations and subcontractors. Africa Alive! with support from JHU/CCP reaches African youth by tapping into popular, creative channels of communication that appeal to youth in Africa and all over the world, such as:
•     Music contests, where contestants compete to have their songs with HIV/AIDS prevention messages recorded.
•     Radio and TV dramas that help educate and promote safe behavior, by depicting and discussing HIV/AIDS prevention and dealing with the decision-making process regarding sexual activity.
•     Radio and TV variety/talk shows with phone-ins, discussion, and mini-dramas addressing HIV/AIDS.
•     Comics with HIV/AIDS prevention messages.
•     Youth-focused newspaper and magazine articles.
•     Public Service Announcements by entertainers popular with youth.
•     Peer outreach/counseling in schools and in the communities.
•     Telephone hotlines providing information and referral resources.
•     Traveling road shows (music, performance, and quiz) that reach both urban and rural areas, getting youth involved in talking about HIV/AIDS.
•     Free merchandise with the HIV/AIDS prevention message on it
•     Games such as "Snakes and Ladders" with the HIV/AIDS prevention message integrated into the physical materials and strategy of the game.
•     Sporting events with prevention messages at breaks, on tickets, and at HIV/AIDS information booths in and around the venue.


Africa is home to 70% of the adults and 80% of the children living with HIV in the world, and has buried three-quarters of the more than 20 million people worldwide that have died of AIDS since the epidemic began. - UNAIDS Global Summary of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, December 2000

In the eight African countries where at least 15% of today’s adults are infected, conservative analyses show that AIDS will claim the lives of around a third of today’s 15-year-olds. - UNAIDS Global Summary of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, December 2000

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