Washington Post Examines Debate Surrounding Swaziland’s Controversial HIV Prevention Campaign That Aimed To Reduce Multiple Sex Partners
The Washington Post on Sunday examined the debate surrounding an HIV prevention campaign that aimed to reduce the number of multiple sex partners among people residing in Swaziland. The campaign -- launched in July by Derek von Wissell, former director of Swaziland's National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS -- featured radio and newspaper ads containing the slogan "Makhwapheni Uyabulala," which means "your secret lover can kill you," according to the Post. The campaign, "in a frenzy of controversy" and protests, ended two weeks after its launch but "had sparked a passionate national debate about how best to combat" HIV transmission, the Post reports. According to von Wissell, the campaign was an attempt to force Swazis to take responsibility for protecting themselves against the virus. "We have been pussyfooting around sex," von Wissell said, adding, "The first thing you must recognize is that sex spreads HIV." According to a study funded by USAID, 86% of people living in Swaziland had heard of the campaign, 91% said they agreed with its message, and 78% said it made them consider changing their sexual behavior. However, HIV/AIDS advocate Gcebile Ndlovu said the ads blamed the victims and would have increased stigma associated with the disease. "Don't tell me how many people to have sex with," Ndlovu said, adding, "You can't dictate that to me. ... Rather, tell me how to be safer." HIV/AIDS advocates also objected to the "moralizing tone" of the ads, preferring messages that promoted condom use, the Post reports. Von Wissell in September launched a new ad campaign without the controversial slogans, according to the Post (Timberg, Washington Post, 10/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.