Cameroon Scientists Call For Improvements To HIV/AIDS Strategy
TheCameroon Association of Young Scientists, or CAMAYS, recently called on thecountry's National AIDS Control Committee to strengthen its communicationstrategy to help curb the spread of the disease in the country, The Post reports. Speaking at a recent meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon,the group said NACC's HIV/AIDS messages have weaknesses that hinder effortsaimed at encouraging behavioral change.
Shifu Ngalla, an expert in communication and media policy, said there is a"missing link" in NACC's communication strategy. According to Ngalla,the messages do not target specific populations or cultures. The messages alsodo not consider the population's level of illiteracy, language, oraccessibility to radio and television, Ngalla said, adding that they alsooverlook the fact that people in the country, who mostly are poor, identifylittle with the messages.
"Messages are conceived, designed and transmitted all over the country asstandardized products," Ngalla said, adding that target groups are"considered as a uniform entity." He added, "Meanwhile, issueslike gender composition, age, social identity groups like school children,drinking communities and cultural landscapes for receivers to identify with areignored or not adequately carried."
According to another CAMAYS presenter, the HIV/AIDS prevalence in the countryhas increased from 0.5% in 1987 to about 5.5% in 2004 in a population of about18 million people. He said Cameroon'sunemployment rate, denial, stigma, poverty, high transmission among youth, lackof sex education and polygamy are fueling the increase in prevalence. Thosemost at risk of contracting HIV in the country include commercial sex workers,truck drivers, mobile populations, military personnel, young people,agricultural and industrial workers, and workers in the mining sector, thepresenter said (Njechu, The Post, 1/17).
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