Organizations as change-agents in HIV/AIDS programmes through participatory communication
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Statistics indicate that HIV/Aids is primarily a problem of developing societies. More than a decade of attempts to address the HIV/Aids pandemic have demonstrated that traditional communication strategies are not as successful in such societies as anticipated. Rather, a participatory approach has been found to be more suitable for communicating developing issues such as HIV/Aids. The organisational environment appears ideally suitable for the implementation of a participatory approach because of the opportunity it offers for interpersonal contact and feedback. Against this background, this article investigates the quality of participation in the HIV/Aids programmes of five South African organisations, by evaluating how these a) fulfil their instructional or educational role; b) act as platforms for dialogue and provide a means for participants to voice their needs; and c) represent or are sensitive to cultural values. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the HIV/Aids coordinators of the organisations in order to determine what their programmes entailed. The perceptions of employees and community members regarding the HIV/Aids programmes were investigated through focus groups. Results indicate that the employees and community members are most satisfied with the programme they take part in and identify the organisation as the most important source of information on HIV/Aids. However, the programmes under investigation were not all found to be fully participatory.