01/05/03

Radio is main source of AIDS information

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Radio broadcast in Cameroon
Radio broadcasts are the single most important source of information about HIV/AIDS for people in developing countries, according to a study conducted by the Population Division of the United Nations.

“There is ample evidence that radio messages about HIV/AIDS make a very significant difference in people’s awareness and knowledge of the disease”, says the report. “There is no doubt that HIV/AIDS broadcasting should be encouraged.”

Overall about half of the female respondents, and more than 7 in 10 male respondents, had heard about AIDS from the radio. In many countries, including Chad, Benin and Nigeria, there is a striking gender gap, with far more men using the radio to get information on AIDS.

Other media sources, including television and newspapers, also rated highly in some countries, though word of mouth from friends and family proved to be the second most important source of information after radio.

In contrast conventional information channels have failed to perform, with few respondents mentioning health clinics, community meetings, pamphlets and posters, or religious centres.

HIV/AIDS: Awareness and Behaviour — which has been published to coincide with the first anniversary of the special session of the UN General Assembly on HIV/AIDS — is based on a series of demographic and health surveys conducted in 39 developing countries, which until now have not been publicly available.

The report states that while the level of awareness of AIDS is generally high (particularly in urban areas), this has failed to translate into changes in behaviour. “The results from this study highlight the enormous challenges lying ahead in the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS”, it concludes.

© SciDev.Net 2002

Photo credit: JHU/CCP