HIV/AIDS Rates Continue to Climb in Africa

By Flavia Lanyero

A new report by PANOS Eastern Africa has shown that new HIV/Aids messages meant to reduce the prevalence of the disease are instead facilitating its spread as they have created false impressions, especially with regard to multiple concurrent partnerships and male circumcision. PANOS is a network of institutions the world over that carries out research and documentation of development information in marginalised communities.

The report, titled, Communication Challenges in HIV Prevention: Multiple Concurrent Partnerships and Medical Male Circumcision, shows that majority of rural population believed that male circumcision gives a complete protection to HIV/Aids, while more than 88% did not exactly know what "the sexual network" was.

The report also notes that most of the HIV/Aids messages are urban based with little or no translation for the rural people. In addition, younger people are no longer scared of the HIV pandemic because it is no longer as scary as it used to be. These communications include the "Be a Man!" campaign, "Go Together - Know Together," "Go Red!" and the "Fidelity" campaigns.

"Current Multiple Concurrent Partnership (MCP) policies, programs and communication initiatives in Uganda are not addressing the social, cultural and economic issues that underline why people engage in MCP. Future attempts should incorporate an analysis of the social drivers of HIV," the report released last month reads in part.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Kampala, the Director PANOS Eastern Africa, Peter Okubal, said the report was prompted by the increasing number of infections every year. Last year alone, 120,000 new infections were recorded. One of the lead researchers, Daudi Ochieng, from the Uganda Health Marketing Group, said that the messages have lost authority and have become cliché. "People are tired of the same old messages, the campaigns are vague and boring, there is nothing shocking about them, and they lack coherence as everyone gives a different message," Mr Ochieng said.

Also, communication about HIV has become complacent in the Ministry of Health (MOH). "The role of MOH in educating people about HIV transmission seems to have ended with the introduction of ARVS [anti-retroviral drugs]. Once these drugs were introduced, even the international donors shifted from financially helping institutions like Aids Information Centre, and are now funding those offering ARVS, and more recently, circumcision," a respondent said.

Related Research and Reading:

Dr. Dean Edell Discusses Africa, AIDS, and Circumcision

Doctors Reject Circumcision as HIV Prevention 

HIV Increases in Africa Where Men Circumcised

African HIV/Circumcision Study Ends Early: Too many women becoming infected

African Healer Sees Higher HIV Rates, Lower Condom Use After Circumcision 

Malawi rules out circumcision as AIDS-prevention: No evidence that it works

The Nuts and Bolts of HIV in the USA and why Circumcision Won't Protect Men

Circumcision is Not a Cure-all for AIDS

Position Statement on the use of Male Circumcision to Limit HIV Infection

The Truth About Circumcision and HIV

Circumcision: Already Illegal?

Here we go again: New York Times publishes headline on HIV and Circumcision

FGM/MGM: Similar Attitudes and Misperceptions

Male and Female Circumcision

The Cut: FGM in Africa

History of Female Circumcision in the U.S.

Circumcision and HIV: Public Health Policy Site


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