PSI Multiple Concurrent Partnerships Mass Media Campaign
This HIV prevention campaign, implemented by Population Services International (PSI) Botswana in 2008, focused on the HIV risk associated with the pattern of multiple concurrent partnerships (MCP). The campaign sought to challenge norms about MCP by focusing on common sayings or idioms which support MCP. Campaign messages pointed out the risks inherent in the behaviours which these sayings helped to normalise or legitimise. These local sayings were challenged via radio, outdoor billboards, print channels, and interpersonal communication.
The campaign's mass media channels included billboard, print, and radio. Between March and August 2008, 37 billboards were erected in a number of cities around the country, 1,059 radio spots were broadcast, and 116 print spots were published. Billboards contained headline messages; print spots provided additional information about why concurrent or overlapping partnerships are risky; and radio spots portrayed typical, everyday scenarios in which the behaviours and values represented in the common sayings play out. All media were produced in both English and Setswana.
The campaign also included community-based interpersonal communication projects such as: peer education in homes, schools, churches, and shebeens (unlicensed drinking establishments); community theatre; and the use of bar and club DJs.
The campaign used common sayings like "It is said that small houses strengthen relationships, but having small houses spreads HIV" and "a man cannot be contained in one kraal (village), but he can spread HIV from one kraal to another".
According to PSI, Southern Africa is the region in the world worst affected by HIV/AIDS: all the highest HIV prevalence countries are in this region. However, comparison of HIV prevalence with the "traditional" sexual behaviour indicators, such as age of sexual debut, lifetime number of sexual partners, and rates of condom use, does not explain the global distribution of HIV infections. Therefore, the focus has shifted in recent years to the pattern of sexual partnerships rather than the overall number of sexual partners as the driver of HIV transmission. Looking to the pattern of sexual relationships as a driver of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is not new, but it is only in recent years that it has gained widespread credibility and acceptance as an explanation of high HIV rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Expert Think Tank Meeting on HIV Prevention in High Prevalence Countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in May 2006 pointed to high levels of multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships by men and women, with insufficient consistent, correct condom use, combined with low levels of male circumcision, as the key drivers of the HIV epidemic in the region.
One communication objective of the campaign was to encourage people engaged in MCP to reflect on their own behaviour. According to evaluations conducted by PSI, the campaign succeeded in provoking thought about multiple partners and HIV risk, with people expressing a wish to change behaviour, or actually changing it. It also aimed to get people talking about the issues related to MCP; evaluations suggest it had some success in this regard as well, mostly in private discussion between friends and partners.
National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) and African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP)