n Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa - Promoting HIV / AIDS prevention through soap operas : Tanzania's experience with : research article

Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0259-0069



In the past three decades television soap operas have been used as a means of health education and persuasion. In recent years, the proliferation of entertainment television worldwide has made the soap opera a powerful source of educational and social messages. One of the most critical global health issues of today is the need to reduce HIV / AIDS infection, particularly on the continent of Africa. In the 1990s, the country of Tanzania broadcast a highly effective radio soap opera to promote HIV / AIDS prevention. In 2000, Tanzania again employed the use of the soap opera to address HIV / AIDS as well as other social issues, this time through television. Our research indicates that the Tanzanian television soap opera employed in this effort, <I>Maisha</I>, effectively promoted HIV / AIDS prevention among television viewers. In particular, those who were more involved with Mashaka, the star of <I>Maisha</I>, were more powerfully influenced by the health messages communicated through the programme. The implications of this research for using entertainment for HIV / AIDS prevention are discussed.

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