Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
The study is grounded in the concept of “Start where the people are” (Nyswander, 1956) which suggests that effective health campaigns that promote prevention strategies to enhance the quality of life for those targeted must be rooted in the prevalent cultural practices and religious values of the receivers of the slogans, themes, and taglines. Health campaigns that superimpose the values of the outsiders promoted as universalized solutions have limited effectiveness.
Sub-Saharan Africa has only 1.3 billion people out of an estimated eight billion of which China and India each recording above two billion, cumulatively accounting for more than half of the world population. Yet sub-Saharan Africa is the epicenter of HIV infections with more than 68% (avert.org), or nearly 26 million out of almost 38 million people living with HIV, globally. This scenario demands that global citizens should foster effective collaborations to end human suffering. Among the ten nations in the world hardest hit by HIV, seven of them are in the southern African region where Botswana, in position three at 18.6% is trailing her next-door neighbors, Lesotho (20.9%) and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) which leads the pack with 27.9% (UNAIDS Report 2022).
This study, therefore, focuses on children and adolescents between 15 and 24 in Botswana. According to a surveillance report (Botswana AIDS Impact Survey 2021) covering the period from March to August, adolescents and youths in Botswana are a source of concern. The report puts the national prevalence at 20.8% or 329,000 persons of the reproductive population (15-49 ages) are living with HIV. This sobering picture is despite the free availability of treatment drugs at no cost since 2002, when Botswana became the first African nation to roll out antiretroviral treatment (HAART interchangeably called ARVs) that was adapted as Masa – ‘a ray of hope of a new dawn’ in 2002. Further, the continued increase in new HIV infections among people of ages 15 to 24 since 2010 is recorded amid major prevention campaigns sponsored through global health partnerships, translating into billions of U S dollars. Numerous HIV prevention strategies developed in the West using empirical data and technology include condom use, antiretroviral regimens known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and treatment as prevention popularized as undetectable equals untransmissible (U = U).
Social media channels like Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram are awash with these HIV prevention strategies, and the adolescent population of Botswana consumes information about everything, including these HIV prevention campaigns. These mentioned strategies seem to provide effective barriers against the intrusion of HIV in the “key populations,” a United Nations preferred term to refer to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intravenous drug users (LGBTQI) communities in the Western nations. However, these strategies require major adjustments when launched in sub-Saharan Africa, this study’s results show, or they are the right message targeted to the wrong audience, mainly because of a lack of cultural representation in the nuanced taglines, headlines, slogans, and themes.
The study suggests that for HIV to be eliminated, participatory research and co-learning where Western science and technology on one hand, and African indigenous knowledge, on the other hand, can fuse in the design of strategies should be prioritized as an emergency.
This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.