Mbeki's HIV/AIDS policy communication: the beliefs and behaviours of a South African community
De Wet, G.
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In South Africa by 2002, the number of people living with HIV had risen to 4. 7 million with JI% of the population infected. About 25% of the pregnant women in South Africa are HIV positive, and hundreds of infants are infected at birth every day. Amidst this grave public health emergency, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa sparked a huge international debate during the 13th International AIDS Conference, when he challenged the prevailing AIDS paradigm that HIV causes AIDS, raised questions about the role of AZT as a treatment, and argued that poverty was responsible for the aggressive spread of AIDS in his country. The theoretical body of research implies that communication of political issues from the media influences public perception about these issues. Residents of Ikageng, a suburb of Potchefstroom in South Africa, were p·urposively sampled because the township was demographically similar to many of the townships in South Africa. Results suggested that President Mbeki's statements may not have played a discernable role in influencing opinion and risk behaviour in this particular sample. This is most likely due to this sample's reliance on other sources for health-related information. The majority of participants reported relying upon medical officials for information about HIV or AIDS. The lack of a direct influence of Mbeki's controversial stance regarding HIV/AIDS on individual risk behaviour, however, may speak to the potential positive and resilient influence of HIV prevention campaigns