A new article published online April 16 in the journal AIDS Care demonstrates how the use of social and behavior change communication (SBCC) can help improve HIV program outcomes.
The article focuses on an SBCC program in Malawi that was designed to increase HIV testing and condom use. The Malawi BRIDGE II project was implemented in the country’s southern region, home to the country’s highest HIV prevalence rate. BRIDGE I was an earlier SBCC program that also addressed HIV behaviors. Both were led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Communication Programs in collaboration with other partners.
“It is clear BRIDGE II is linked to positive behavioral changes,” said lead author Michelle Kaufman, PhD, while noting the exact pathways of those changes is not so clear.
BRIDGE II includes community-based activities and mass media messages delivered by radio. Malawi’s Tasankha (Our Choice!) campaign is a multi-media effort under BRIDGE II that promotes family values and positive behavioral choices in addressing concurrent and multiple partnerships as a key driver for new HIV infections in Malawi. The campaign supports individuals and communities to better understand that “choices” are central to behavior and facilitates better behavioral choices around HIV prevention.
The just-published study collected data on HIV knowledge, self-efficacy and HIV risk perception at the baseline and midway through the project. A regression analysis showed that exposure to the BRIDGE II program resulted in a significant association with HIV knowledge level and self-efficacy, but not risk perception. Program exposure was also a significant predictor of both HIV testing in the past year and condom use at last sex.
“Multilevel social and behavioral change communication interventions, such as mass media supported by community interactions, provide a strong platform to support behavior change,” the authors concluded.