Public health campaigns to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS still playing catch-up with the virus.

Ever since those tomb-stones dropped down in a scary UK anti-aids campaign back in the late eighties, public health campaigns have been freaking us out, educating us and trying to calm us back down again. Still the virus has spread further than the information about it. For example in India, which has the highest concentration of HIV-infected people than anywhere else on the planet, 43% of women have never heard of HIV and don't know what it is. Every culture has a different problem to solve and thus need a different way of approaching their AIDS communication. In some parts of Africa, 'sugar daddies' are more than just a way to get neat gear, transactional sex is a way to survive. That's when campaigns like this appear:
"Would you let this man be with your teenage daughter? So why are you with his?"

Pardon the blurry high-speed back of car window style of this photograph, and thanks to Tomas for shooting it

Read more from Catherine Zandonella's article Public health campaigns to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS can be very effective and are needed more than ever

In many regions of the world, women are economically dependent on men, lack the power to demand fidelity or condom use, and live under threat of violence from an intimate partner. As a result the HIV/AIDS epidemic is becoming increasingly female. In Swaziland, one of the most heavily affected countries, HIV prevalence among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics was 43% in 2004. Similarly high prevalence figures are found throughout southern Africa. In China, women comprised 39% of reported HIV cases in 2004, up from 25% two years earlier.

For many women, particularly those in resource-poor settings, transactional sex is a necessary means of survival. Since the onset of the AIDS pandemic an age old concept has been redefined and poses new threats to young women who see cross-generational sex with 'sugar daddies' as a way to empower their status. These young women are at greater risk of acquiring HIV since, on average, older men are more likely to have had the chance to become HIV infected and to have multiple partners.

To combat the trend, PSI has developed campaigns in Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, and Mozambique that appeal to parents, young women, and their male partners. The campaigns carry the message that cross-generational sex can increase the risk of HIV infection (see Figure 2 below). In Uganda, PSI is collaborating with political leaders and community organizations to create stigma against these relationships. The campaign includes posters of a leering older man with the caption, "Would you let this man be with your teenage daughter? So why are you with his?" In Cameroon, the "No to Sugar Daddies, No to AIDS" campaign via television, radio, and print is raising awareness and changing societal views about the practice.