Media has a powerful role to play in educating the world. It was years ago, that Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, the disease now recognized all over the world as AIDS, was first detected and recorded in Asia. Over the past two decades, the infection rate has grown rapidly in Asia, which is now second number to Africa in the number of HIV positive people. In Pakistan, HIV and AIDS was first detected in 1986 and according to UNAIDS estimates, this country now has over 80,000 infected people…and counting. HIV/AIDS programming needs to become part of the DNA of media companies globally.
In the beginning of the advertising campaign against AIDS in the initial years… a time when media men were scared to even write the word “AIDS” in the copy of a commercial. There were restrictions and they did not know how to address the issue. It was after a lot of guts that a commercial was finally produced saying: “AIDS is a dangerous disease, prevention is must”. It was later improved to “HIV is dangerous, Protect yourself” focusing on only blood and blood products as the mode of transmission. There was no mention of sex because media men were not permitted to use the word “condom”.
In 2002 that a commercial was finally made showing and promoting male contraception. It was approved by the local censor board with some modification, but when it was ready to be aired, the state run media resisted its telecast as the concerned officials got cold feet and said no. it should be “ qurbat k taaluqaat mein ehtyat kijye “ and use this ( condom was shown). It did not even use the word Condom. It was only after 2002 that all the modes of transmission of HIV and AIDS between the sexes were explained. During this period, media has started taking up the issue in their programming.
If we make comparison between Indian and Pakistani awareness campaigns, Pakistan is still years behind. As in Indian commercials they openly discuss the issue as in Pakistan things are yet not openly discussed. As researcher have analysis of some Indian TV commercial on AIDS. In one Indian commercial a lawyers community have shown and one of them is going to a prostitution all are making fun of him but an old aged lawyer told him that he can enjoy with prostitution but he should use Condom for safe sex so that he can protect himself from AIDS. This ad explains that peer group discussions can be effective for creating awareness for safe sex.
In Pakistan recent days a condom ad with the song “suno zara khushi ki aahat” is running on PTV (Pakistan television) with the collaboration of Green Star (family planning organization). This ad is a song based story in which a happy newly married family with a new born baby has shown. There is not mention in all the song that it’s about the use of condom but at the end of the song 5-6 second logo of the condom has shown. Although the mass media awareness campaigns have not been successful, some developing countries have successfully used the media to combat the epidemic.
Media does have the potential to contribute significantly to disseminating this HIV/AIDS messages if utilized effectively and efficiently. Radio is used by the majority of the people in the rural areas therefore radio can be effectively used in the HIV/AIDS awareness. The hypothesis of this research was that “HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns through the media were not effective” was proved otherwise. Media was accessible to both the rural and urban areas and people were aware of the mode of HIV transmission, however there was still misconception about other forms of transmission about mosquito bites, kissing and drinking from the same cup.
Thus it can be concluded that if the majority of the people are equipped with the general knowledge about HIV/AIDS, then that will the attitude change because people will know how to take care of a PLWHA, thus, stigma and discrimination would be reduced. The Media and the people’s attitude are the two factors that have proved to be powerful tools that can have a big impact on the prevalence rate of the HIV infection. The ability of the media to influence people’s perspective towards HIV/AIDS cannot be effective if other factors such as lack of knowledge, level of education, unemployment, cultural and religion interaction and social injustice.
These continue to manipulate the awareness messages in the media. It has been discovered that there is a need for more HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns carried out using appropriate and relevant languages and IEC materials that could be easily understood by the majority of the rural people, and help them change their attitudes towards the messages Media accessibility would not make a difference in the people’s attitudes, but it is the content and context of the messages through the use of the correct level of language that would enhance the people’s comprehension of the problem.
That will in turn, reduce the infection rate and decrease the level of stigma and discrimination. Media messages are not clear that people can’t understand. HIV is among us and only by accepting this can we deal with it and for this purpose researcher have planned a strategy.
- Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS., and World Health Organization. AIDS epidemic update, December 2006. World Health Organization, 2007.
- UNICEF., Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS., and World Health Organization. Young people and HIV/AIDS: Opportunity in crisis. The Stationery Office, 2002.
- Park, Benjamin J., et al. “Estimation of the current global burden of cryptococcal meningitis among persons living with HIV/AIDS.” Aids 23.4 (2009): 525-530.