ICT as the new red ribbon? Exploring the opportunities of new technologies for innovative communication strategies in the field of primary HIV and AIDS prevention at the University of the Western Cape.

Dorien Baelden, Tania Vergnani, Leo Van Audenhove

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)

Abstract

This study was set up to examine whether new technologies are able to (1) stimulate dialogue on HIV and AIDS related issues and (2) fight campaign fatigue among South African university students. As a literature review shows, the psychological behaviour change strategies, which have been rather dominant within the field of primary HIV and AIDS prevention, are slowly giving way to a new paradigm. The notion of enabling environments in which dialogue can flourish and behaviour change can occur is increasingly gaining attention. Although this new paradigm still lacks a theoretical framework, the underlying ideas are clear: dialogue and empowerment are the keys to social change and social change is an indispensable condition for individual behaviour change. It is however not easy to facilitate dialogue on sensitive issues such as sexuality and HIV and AIDS. In addition, more and more studies observe an increasing level of AIDS fatigue when it comes to primary HIV and AIDS prevention, especially among high-risk groups such as university students. Some authors believe that ICT and the internet in particular are possibly more appropriate than traditional media to address these issues. On the one hand young people refer to new technologies as media of their generation. On the other hand, due to its anonymous and interactive character, the internet could provide a safe space for sharing experiences and discussing sensitive subjects, as it allays the fear of stigma and discrimination. There is however no evidence of the positive effects of new technologies, certainly not in a digital divide context. By means of a case study at the University of the Western Cape, this research wants to explore whether new technologies are in fact able to stimulate dialogue on HIV and AIDS related issues and fight AIDS fatigue among university students. Therefore we developed, implemented and evaluated an online discussion forum on HIV and AIDS. The evaluation of the digital campaign was done through a triangulation of research methods, including focus group interviews and online tracking statistics. The results of this study show that the online discussion forum succeeded in stimulating dialogue. However, this conclusion needs to be interpreted with caution. For instance, the online discussion forum was only successful in stimulating dialogue when formally integrated into the curriculum. The results of this study also indicate that the digital campaign could be a good way of addressing AIDS fatigue. The university students warmly welcomed the discussion forum (via curriculum integration). In fact, the students evaluated the digital campaign more positively than campaigns using more traditional media.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIAMCR Conference, Mexico City, 21-24 July
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2009
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009

Conference

ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet
Country/TerritorySweden
CityStockholm
Period21/09/0925/09/09

Keywords

  • New technologies
  • Higher education
  • South Africa
  • Interpersonal dialogue
  • Social learning environments
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Social change

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