Bilateral actions: W&T cooperation with South Africa: Digital Information Layer for HIV and AIDS awareness

Project Details


Considering the high HIV infection rates among South African higher education students, primary prevention programs are tremendously important. However, as the literature points out, many of the previously developed campaigns do not have the desired effect: behaviour change on a large scale fails to occur. Recent studies therefore suggest that the focus of new campaigns should shift from individual behaviour change towards social change. Stimulating dialogue on sensitive topics like HIV and AIDS related issues and empowering high-risk communities such as university students are now seen as key instruments in the fight against the virus. In addition, some studies point out that teenagers and adolescents are getting tired of hearing about AIDS. Consequently, if South African higher education institutions want to gain and maintain students' attention, they will need to apply new, creative and innovative messaging solutions. Information and communication technologies, and the internet in particular, have a number of important advantages for this type of messaging when compared to traditional media channels. These include interactivity and anonymity. Therefore ICT in general and the internet in particular offer new and innovative ways for setting up HIV and AIDS prevention campaigns.

By conducting a case study at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) this research aimed to gain insights into the way in which new technologies could be employed in the fight against HIV and AIDS in a tertiary education context. The overall research question for this case study was: "Are new technologies, with their unique characteristics like interactivity and anonymity, appropriate media for innovative HIV and AIDS campaigns in a university context? In other words, are new technologies - computers and the internet in particular - appropriate media for stimulating dialogue and fighting the AIDS fatigue?" In order to answer this overall research question, this study was split up in three major parts: 1) a preliminary research on AIDS fatigue and on using ICT for prevention purposes, 2) the development and implementation of a digital campaign on HIV and AIDS related issues, and 3) an evaluation of the digital campaign. The research uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods using self-completion questionnaires, focus group, in-depth interviews, and online monitoring and tracking tools.
Effective start/end date1/09/0631/08/08


  • Information Technologies
  • Communication Policy
  • Science Communication
  • New Media
  • Cultural theory and policy
  • Research On Media Effects
  • Ethnicity
  • Privacy

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Media and communications


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