A Study of Behaviour Change Communication Messages on Gender Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in Rural Areas: Spouses in Focus

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Addis Ababa University


Recent studies indicate that rural areas have not been researched well concerning HIV/AIDS and even if researched, emphasis has been given to numbers. This study was intended to study behaviour change communication on gender vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in rural areas by focusing on spousal behaviour. The research employed constructive paradigm as a lens through which the world is understood. Methodologically, the research followed qualitative methodology. Data were gathered from spouses, health workers, OSSA (organization for the social support of AIDS) representative, PLWHA (persons living with HIV/AIDS) chairperson and HAPCO (HIV/AIDS prevention and control office) representative through interview and focus group discussion as well as from documents. The data gathered were analysed using discourse analysis. Results obtained from the document analysis indicated that there is a gap in the design of the messages concerning representation of audiences in the messages and presentation of the messages. Findings from interview and focus group discussion also indicated that there are gaps in the delivery of the messages concerning the strategy used to make people accept the messages. It was also found that the use of inappropriate words is forcing HIV patients’ to hide their serostatus and husbands to resist discussion of HIV/AIDS and related issues. Study of the delivery of the messages indicated that the interventionists used discourses of fear and blame in delivering the messages, which iv triggered hidden resistance from the audiences in some cases. The findings also indicated that people use expressions which show hatred about condom, and health workers did not do enough to develop people’s awareness about the issue. The study indicated that there are three factors that aggravate the spread of the virus in rural areas. One of these factors is that people stigmatise those living with the virus through their words and this is creating a feeling fear and revenge in people living with the virus. The other factor is that there is still a practice of extramarital and premarital sexual relation among the people. The third factor is that rural people express their hatred towards condom and say that it has to be used by the unmarried youth, by the educated or by urban people. The overall implication of the study is that the messages have succeeded in developing people’s awareness about the virus and even resulted in attitudinal change towards some practices that aggravate the transmission of the virus. There is, however, a gap in both the design and delivery of the messages in transforming this attitudinal change into behaviour change.