HIV Prevention - A Rising Star?

Treatment has dominated the HIV/AIDS work since 1980, most of the fact that HIV was referred to as any disease the world has been confronted with so far. This is also why prevention has been marginalised. “This systematic imbalance in clinical and public-health programmes is largely responsible for the fact that around 2.5 million people become newly infected with HIV each year.” (R. Horton, The Lancet, 2009)

WHO is somewhat proud of the fact that (only!) 3 million people are now receiving antiretroviral therapy as a result of probably one of the most well-known and costly campaign in AIDS history — the 3 by 5. The aim was set at 3 million people by the year 2005. It was reached almost three years later. Great achievement? Yes, maybe for those who got the medicine (and can cope the side effects) but especially for all the children, and young women and men — no!

Where are the efficient prevention campaigns putting focus on behavioural change? That is what’s needed, not any glossy leaflets or general information campaigns. If we are going to be able to stop — or at least slow down — the pandemic we need to turn from an unsafe behaviour to a safer.
This pandemic will never be defeated without effective prevention, outlined in different cultural specific settings. It is the diversity that’s needed, and the UN system cannot supply that, it has to be dealt with in every single local setting. We also need the input from a century of knowledge and experience from the Market Economy sector.

I claim that Marketing has not only been neglected by most for the HIV/AIDS community, I claim that strategies used marketing holds a significant contribution to the abolishment of the spread of HIV.

For everyone who has studied Philip Kotler (seen by many as the marketing guru), knows that the aim for a businesswoman is to make the consumer change from one product to another, be attracted to a lifestyle, and act according to the marketing strategies outlined. The basics of this strategy are first to define the target group; whom are we going to reach?
Then we have to use cultural-specific methods so that we know what will make the target group listen/draw attention to messages/activities. If we try to reach everyone with a messaged outlined for everyone — then we will not reach anyone but those behind the material or eventually politicians funding the crap. And finally, we need the message to be outlined as a challenge and a call for action, easily understood.

Every step needs careful evaluation, so that we use the funds wisely. Is this simple? No, who said so in the first place? The cure for this is not a pill from a medical corporation. That’s why more resources from the international community must be allocated to the skills in prevention on local community level in the future. Maybe that’s easier said than done, but with the proper National HIV Coordination it will be significantly better.

Tristan Troby
Expert on HIV Prevention & Education
Currently in Iraq

If you’re interested in knowing more about this subject, please communicate through this website on contact us.