Cameroon Scientists Call for Improvements to HIV/AIDS Communication Strategy
The Cameroon Association of Young Scientists, or CAMAYS, recently called on the country's National AIDS Control Committee to strengthen its communication strategy to help curb the spread of the disease in the country, The Post reports. Speaking at a recent meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon, the group said NACC's HIV/AIDS messages have weaknesses that hinder efforts aimed at encouraging behavioral change.
Shifu Ngalla, an expert in communication and media policy, said there is a "missing link" in NACC's communication strategy. According to Ngalla, the messages do not target specific populations or cultures. The messages also do not consider the population's level of illiteracy, language, or accessibility to radio and television, Ngalla said, adding that they also overlook the fact that people in the country, who mostly are poor, identify little with the messages.
"Messages are conceived, designed and transmitted all over the country as standardized products," Ngalla said, adding that target groups are "considered as a uniform entity." He added, "Meanwhile, issues like gender composition, age, social identity groups like school children, drinking communities and cultural landscapes for receivers to identify with are ignored or not adequately carried."
According to another CAMAYS presenter, the HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country has increased from 0.5% in 1987 to about 5.5% in 2004 in a population of about 18 million people. He said Cameroon's unemployment rate, denial, stigma, poverty, high transmission among youth, lack of sex education and polygamy are fueling the increase in prevalence. Those most at risk of contracting HIV in the country include commercial sex workers, truck drivers, mobile populations, military personnel, young people, agricultural and industrial workers, and workers in the mining sector, the presenter said (Njechu, The Post, 1/17).