Assessing Perceptions and Channels of HIV/AIDS Messages in sub-Saharan Africa: The Malawi Case
AbstractIn view of disseminating HIV/AIDS information to the general public, we have examined the channels of HIV/AIDS messages, and the perceptions of the general public, especially the youth in Malawi. Various issues and views on HIV/AIDS information such sex discussions, current and preferred sources of information, age likely to get HIV/AIDS, as well as, perceptions on people likely to get the disease, modes of transmission, methods of prevention and community views were examined thoroughly. This was done by using multi-stage sampling method and interviewing 1220 persons across the country. It was found that radio followed by newspapers, magazine and books were the most preferred sources of information on HIV/AIDS, however, it is disheartening to learn that only 20% of the youth obtained information from their parents. But, generally a good number of the general public are aware of the existence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the basic facts about it in Malawi. In terms of perceptions about HIV/AIDS, most youth believed in the possibility of behavoural change; and the most common form of behavoural change among the youth surveyed was abstinence. Nonetheless, although an overwhelming majority of youth (about 95% boys and 92% girls) knew what a condom was and could specify its use, only one in every five boys have ever used one. It was also found that 94.7% of the people surveyed (of all ages) indicated that people with multiple sexual partners are most likely to contract HIV/AIDS, followed by 79.3% indicating that bar girls/prostitutes are at the highest risk. On the other hand, 19.3% of the people think that school children are at risk of getting HIV/AIDS and 10.7% indicated babies. This is an indication that there is still a feeling that HIV/AIDS, is a selective disease having a particular group of people as vulnerable and isolating others. This feeling could arise because of the emphasis laid in the messages in terms of vulnerability of prostitutes and people with multiple sexual partners only.
UNISWA Research Journal of Agriculture, Science and Technology Vol. 4 (2) 2000: pp 155-162
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