Traditional HIV/AIDS Awareness Messages Not Effective Among Young Minorities, Study Finds
College-aged minorities living in Chicago do not trust the HIV/AIDS prevention messages being presented to them and are less likely to seek treatment as a result, according to a study to be released next week at the Illinois Youth and HIV/AIDS Forum, the Chi-Town Daily News reports. The study -- which Chicago-based not-for-profit Children's Place Association funded and researchers from the University of Chicago conducted -- looked at seven focus groups that totaled about 70 college-aged people and included blacks, Hispanics and whites of both sexes and gay men.
Researchers used a 30-second public service announcement as an example of how traditional messages are failing. The message failed to resonate with blacks in particular, Anjanette Chan Tack, a doctoral student who worked on the study, said. According to the Daily News, the PSA was "bookended by sexually suggestive programming." Chan Tack said, "They were saying, 'OK, sure, you've got this flash on the screen for 30 seconds ... but this [is] in a sea of music videos where people are engaging in sex,'" adding, "You don't see people using protection; all this stuff is glamorized, and in the middle there is a commercial telling you to protect yourself."
The study also found that cultural beliefs could affect the success of HIV/AIDS awareness messages. Some in the Hispanic community believe that getting tested for HIV is an admission of guilt, while others, women in particular, do not feel empowered to demand condom use, Chan Tack said. In addition, members of the focus group said HIV/AIDS PSAs that included members of their own community were more credible than those featuring celebrities.
Cathy Krieger, president of Children's Place, said the study shows that "different things work for different people," adding, "It is really a matter of justice that everyone has the opportunity to hear HIV prevention methods that work for them." Krieger said that one of the most interesting findings was blacks' distrust of traditional means of disseminating HIV/AIDS awareness messages. "There's been a disconnect between government and health institutions in the black community," she said (Parker, Chi-Town Daily News, 2/20).