Initiated by Community Health Media Trust (CHMT), Siyayinqoba Beat It! is a television and video based project designed to provide reliable, scientifically-based information to people living with HIV/AIDS, their partners, family, friends, care-givers, and health workers. Broadcasting nationally since 1998, the programme includes the production of training materials and community outreach related to treatment literacy.
Communication Strategies: 

According to the organisers, Siyayinqoba Beat It! is premised on the idea that treatment and prevention are interdependent processes and that prevention information is for everyone – HIV negative and positive people. Key messages highlighted on the show and in all of Siyayinqoba Beat It! communication include messages related to: regular testing and starting anti-retroviral treatment at the right time; reporting sexual abuse and rape (a major contributing factor to the spread of the disease), alcohol abuse and its relation to risky sexual practices; partner reduction; and encouraging safer sex at all times.

Siyayinqoba Beat It! is comprised of four key programmes:

  • The Siyayinqoba Beat It! television magazine programme - is designed to promote positive living, treatment access, and prevention of HIV infection both for the uninfected and people living with HIV. The show's format centers around documentary inserts - created by Community Journalists - followed by discussion of the issues amongst members of an in-studio support group of people living with HIV. The latest series started broadcasting in July 2008.
  • The Siyayinqoba Beat It! Outreach Project - employs 70 Treatment Literacy and Prevention Practitioners in 5 provinces, (Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape) to present Siyayinqoba Beat It! content in clinics, hospitals, schools, and other organisations to assist in establishing treatment and prevention literacy programmes.
  • Siyayinqoba Beat It! Treatment Literacy series - is a 21-part non-broadcast audio visual series providing detailed treatment literacy information for training of peer educators, health workers, community health workers working in community organisations, business, and government. The series is available in English, isiXhosa, isiZulu, and Portuguese for Mozambique, and is currently (2009) being digitised in all of these languages. It can be viewed in English online through the links below.
  • Siyayinqoba Beat It! archive - an audio visual archive on the history of HIV/AIDS and health in South Africa with over 1500 hours of material.

The archive houses various materials for download such as the Siyayinqoba Beat It! television series, documentaries, and treatment literacy materials..

According to the organisers, one of the challenges facing CHMT is to marry their "above the line" broadcast work with their "below the line" face-to-face outreach work - to develop one cohesive, coherent public health education, information and behaviour change campaign. The key media elements used for the communication campaign are the following:

  • ComutaNet - a campaign through the ComutaNet network, which accesses millions of commuters each day in trains, taxis, and taxi ranks. Posters, radio adverts, big-screen TV adverts, and radio interviews have all been used.
  • Print campaign - quarter-page sized newspaper adverts in 3 papers each week for the full 26-week duration of the TV series, on the day before the show is broadcast.
  • Radio campaign - a "hard-hitting radio campaign, running on 8 of South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Radio's biggest stations in 5 languages."
  • Rubber wristbands - orange rubber wristbands were created as a wearable reminder of the Beat It! slogan, "Protect Yourself. Protect Others." Rather than following the international trend towards using silicone wristbands similar to the "Livestrong" ones created by the Lance Armstrong Foundation, these orange wristbands have a distinctly African inspiration as they're identical to the black rubber bands which have been worn locally for many years. The wristbands were distributed attached to a flyer containing prevention and health messaging.
  • Branded jumbo-sized matchboxes - Another element of the campaign was the series of branded jumbo-sized matchboxes, each also containing health messaging. Matchboxes are integral to the lives of many people in the target market, as they are used for lighting stoves and other domestic appliances. One of these matchboxes would remain in a typical home for several weeks, and would reach all members of the family in that period.
  • SMS Competition - CHMT partnered with Cell-Life, a company that uses information and communication technology (ICT) to develop solutions that support the management and monitoring of HIV/AIDS in the public health sector, to add an SMS competition to the campaign. People were invited to send a free SMS to the relevant number to enter the draw for prizes of cellphone airtime - and then had to watch the show to check if they had won. This helped drive viewers to the show, and gave CHMT a contactable database by the end of the campaign.
Development Issues: 


Key Points: 

According to the organisers, treatment literacy refers to providing accurate information about the science behind the disease and treatment, in this case for HIV and AIDS. Treatment literacy is based on the belief that if people are more aware of the science behind their disease and how their medication works, then they are more able to understand prevention strategies, how they may reduce their risk of infection, how antiretroviral drugs work, and why adherence is critical. Treatment literacy also promotes advocacy around access to treatment and service delivery. UNAIDS has twice cited CHMT as an example of best practice.

Partner Text: 

Global Fund to Fight TB, HIV and Malaria; Cultural Workshop & Conference Initiative (CWCI); UK Department for International Development (DFID); South African Department of Health; John Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA); Open Society Foundation (OSF); US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); SABC1; SABC EDUCATION; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA); and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).


Email from Lesley Fahey to Soul Beat Africa on August 28 2004 and Siyayinqoba Beat It! website on November 25 2008, and email from Gareth Dawson o The Communication Initiative on April 20 2009.