Media messaging: a synthesis of lessons from the literature to inform HIV prevention amongst young people


Based on a review of literature, we provide a number of challenges and lessons to inform HIV-prevention media messaging initiatives for the youth. When designing initiatives, it is imperative that the unique needs of the youth are taken into account, although the youth should not be seen as a homogenous group. The evaluation of initiatives is also important and external evaluators and implementers should work together and draw on methodological pluralism to produce the most useful evaluations. For media initiatives to be successful, all stakeholders need to support the intervention. A key challenge is working with communities who may be divided over approaches to HIV prevention. Young people should not only be the 'target' of messaging initiatives but should play a central role in their design and implementation. Exposure to media messaging is not a proxy for behaviour change. Initiatives should be based on explicit theories of the complex relationship between messaging and behaviour change. It is important for media messaging to engage with how structures constrain sexual choices. Messaging is most successful when it uses a multi-media approach and when it is combined with interpersonal communication. This type of pedagogy is dialogical and allows for engagement with the youth, challenging the view of the youth as passive recipients of messages.

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