A future direction for HIV/AIDS communication: participation, HIV positive celebrities and their public self-expression
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After almost three decades of HIV/Aids communication in South Africa, a recent HSRC report (Shisana et al. 2014) indicated that South Africans’ knowledge on HIV/Aids has declined in the last few years and risky sexual behaviour amongst certain groups has increased. This shifts the thinking about HIV/Aids communication away from focusing on communication alone to issues around the uptake of HIV/Aids communication. This crisis of HIV/Aids communication suggests investigating future directions for communication about the virus in the hope that a new direction might stimulate the uptake. Instead of continuing the trajectory of strategically incorporating participatory techniques in project‑based HIV/Aids communication that is conceived “outside” the target community, this article investigates participatory HIV/Aids communication that emerges from “within” society. Through a review of existing literature, this article investigates the HIV/Aids communication of HIV‑positive South African celebrities, and indicates how they participate in HIV/Aids communication and how they express their life stories in public (public self‑expression). Furthermore, some HIV‑positive celebrities invite the public to share their life stories on a public platform – in line with the Freirean principle of participatory development communication. This form of HIV/Aids communication is also characterised by the sharing of real people’s personal views regarding all aspects – not only biomedical – of the virus.
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