n African Journal of Rhetoric - Promoting Voluntary Counselling and HIV-Testing (VCT) amongst South African students : "quick and easy"?

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


South Africans students infected with HIV and who are unaware of their HIV status and who practise unsafe sex are major drivers of new infections. By not testing for HIV, they deprive themselves of the opportunity to utilise the available care and support systems that will help them cope with the negative physical, psychological, social and economic consequences of the disease should they test positive. Consequently, a number of mass media campaigns have been launched to persuade at-risk students to go for an HIV test. However, there has been little research to determine the effectiveness of these campaigns.

This article focuses, first of all, on a number of problematic issues in the design of current mass mediated Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) campaigns that target students. Secondly, the best practices framework put forward by Noar (2006) and Palmgreen, Noar and Zimmerman (2008) that could improve the effectiveness of future VCT campaigns aimed at the student population is discussed. Besides the use of theory-driven empirical research to determine the content of such messages, this article also focuses on the message features (the how/formal features) of VCT campaign materials. A more detailed analysis is provided of the messaging of the brochure "Get tested for HIV" (distributed by the Higher Education HIV/AIDS programme) and that of the "Quick and Easy" campaign (launched at the University of Pretoria). The article ends with a discussion of a number of issues relating to the (in)effectiveness of campaign messages and the need for further research.

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