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HIV and AIDS Campaign Guide

What is in this guide

  1. Why should organisations address the issue of HIV and AIDS
  2. Important things to know about HIV and AIDS
  3. How to run an HIV and AIDS campaign
  • Aims of the campaign
  • Target
  • Slogans and message
  • Campaign methods
  1. Public education
  2. Awareness raising
  3. Promoting openness about AIDS and people living with AIDS
  4. Support and care for people living with AIDS
  5. Community care for orphans
  6. Motivating others to get involved

  1. Why should organisations address the issue of HIV and AIDS

HIV and AIDS is one of the biggest challenges we face as a country. The rate of infection is rapidly increasing and more and more people are getting ill and dying from AIDS. Of all the people living with AIDS in the world, it is estimated that 6 out of every 10 men, 8 out of every 10 women and 9 out of every 10 children live in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has one of the fastest growing rates of infection in the world.

Individuals, families and communities are badly affected by the epidemic. The burden of care falls on the families and children of those who are ill. Often they have already lost a breadwinner and the meagre resources they have left are not enough to provide care for the ill person and food for the family.

Children who are orphaned are often deprived not only of parental care, but also of financial support. Many of them leave school and have no hope of ever getting a decent education or job. These children who grow up without any support or guidance from adults may become our biggest problem in the future.

Most of the people who are dying are between the ages of 20 and 45 - an age when most people are workers and parents. This has serious consequences for our economy and the development of the country.

Our welfare system may not be able to cope with the number of orphans who need grants. Our health system is already strained to provide basic health care for all diseases and in parts of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng almost half of hospital beds are taken by people who are ill from AIDS.

AIDS can affect anyone. But it is clear that it is spreading faster to people who live in poverty and lack access to education, basic health services, nutrition and clean water. Young people and women are the most vulnerable. Women are often powerless to insist on safe sex and easily become infected by HIV positive partners. When people have other diseases like sexually transmitted diseases, TB or malaria they are also more likely to contract and die from AIDS.

Although AIDS has become very common it is still surrounded by silence. People are ashamed to speak about being infected and many see it as a scandal when it happens in their families. People living with AIDS are exposed to daily prejudice born out of ignorance and fear.

We cannot tackle this epidemic unless we can break the silence and remove the stigma [shame] that surrounds it. As leaders in our communities we have to provide leadership on how to deal with AIDS.

The fight against AIDS has to happen on two main fronts - prevention and care. To prevent the spread of AIDS we have to educate people on how to prevent infection. We also have to change the social attitudes that make women vulnerable because they cannot refuse unsafe sex from a partner and the attitudes among men that lead to woman abuse and rape. Poverty alleviation and development are also important programmes that will limit the spread of AIDS.

To deal with the results of the disease and the social problems it creates, we have to make sure that people living with AIDS get care and support to help them live longer and healthier lives. We also have to make sure that those who are dying are properly looked after. For the children who are left orphaned we have to find ways of looking after them so that they do not become hopeless and turn to crime or live on the streets because of poverty.

AIDS can reverse the gains we have made in our struggle to build a better life for our people. Government cannot fight this battle alone. Government can provide health and welfare services, development programmes and information. Organisations on the ground have to provide the type of leadership and direction that will lead to real change in people's attitudes and behaviour.

It is also the responsibility of every individual to support the fight against AIDS. The rest of this guide gives details of what we can do.

  1. Important things to know about HIV and AIDS

AIDS affects millions of South Africans. It is estimated that more than 4 million South Africans are HIV positive and about 1 000 people die every day. Infection rates differ from region to region and in rural KwaZulu-Natal it may be over 25% in some areas - one in every four adults.

What is AIDS and HIV

AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a disease that destroys your ability to fight other infections through your immune system. You get AIDS from a virus called HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

People who get HIV can stay healthy for many years and most infected people do not even know that they are HIV positive. There are no visible signs to show that a person is infected. They can pass the disease on to other people by having unprotected sex with them.

The second phase of the disease is when you get AIDS and start becoming ill more easily. AIDS itself does not kill people - they usually die from other infections like flu, diarrhoea, pneumonia or TB. Poor people who are not well nourished and live in bad conditions, tend to become ill and die much sooner than others.

Some of the symptoms of a person living with AIDS could be losing weight very quickly and getting ill often with things like flu or pneumonia or stomach problems.

How do you get AIDS

There are only three ways to get AIDS: unprotected sex, contact with infected blood or body fluids and mother to baby transmission.

  1. Unprotected sex:
    This is the most common way that people get AIDS. If you have sex with an HIV positive person and there is direct contact between the penis and vagina or anus, you can easily get infected. The virus lives in the fluids inside the penis and vagina and can easily enter your bloodstream. Using condoms properly is the only protection against this kind of infection.
  2. Contact with infected blood.
    If you have an open wound and it comes into contact with the blood of an HIV positive person, you can get infected. This contact could be through using the same needles for drugs or unsafe instruments used for circumcision. You can also get it from blood transfusions if the blood is contaminated [in SA all blood is screened]. Medical workers can get it from accidentally pricking themselves with needles they have used to inject HIV positive people.
  3. Mother to baby transmission.
    HIV positive mothers can pass the infection to their babies, although this does not happen in all cases. Transmission can happen during pregnancy, or childbirth because of the contact with blood, or during breast feeding.

You cannot get AIDS from kissing someone on the lips, hugging, sharing food and drink or using the same bath or toilet as someone who is HIV positive. [Deep kissing or French kissing can pass on HIV if you have sores in your mouth]

Anyone can get AIDS, but some people are more vulnerable because they do not have the power to say no to unprotected sex or because of their risky lifestyles. The groups who are most vulnerable and have the highest infection rates are:

Young women are most vulnerable because they often powerless to say no to unprotected sex with an HIV positive partner. They are also the most common victims of rape and sexual abuse. Young girls who are virgins are also at risk because of the myth that a person can be cured of AIDS by having sex with a virgin. This is total rubbish and is just an excuse for child abuse.

The other groups are vulnerable because many of them have a number of different sexual partners and they do not always practice safe sex. Drug users may share needles without sterilising them first. Anal sex is more dangerous because the anus has no natural lubrication and this often results in injuries during sex. Condoms are also not designed to be strong enough for anal sex.

Social attitudes

The biggest problem in fighting AIDS is breaking the silence that surrounds the epidemic. Although thousands of people are ill or dying, it is not spoken about and families often hide the fact that their relatives had AIDS.

People still feel that it is something that happens to others and not to their families. People who are infected fear rejection and discrimination from those around them and try to hide their illness. Although testing is available, only about one in ten people who are HIV positive know it. This means that they can carry on infecting others without knowing it.

There are myths around AIDS and they lead to people seeing it as a scandal that should be kept secret. Many people see those with AIDS as people who were promiscuous or homosexual. AIDS is almost seen as a plague that you can catch just from being with someone who is HIV positive. In some communities people with AIDS have been chased out or attacked.

In countries where the infection rate has gone down, this only happened after so many people became ill that people could no longer pretend it was not happening and everyone started fearing that they will be next. We cannot afford to wait that long and must find ways of bringing the epidemic into the open now.

The challenge for us is to make people fear getting the disease without them turning against those who are already HIV positive.

This means that we have to make it easier for people to be open, to go for tests and to seek care. We have to treat it as an illness and not a scandal that has to be kept secret. We have to create an environment where communities become more caring towards people living with AIDS and orphans and we all take responsibility for education around prevention.

How do you treat AIDS

You can find out whether you are HIV positive by having a free blood test at any clinic or hospital. The results will only be given to you. If you are positive you should tell your sexual partners so that they can also be tested and you should only practice safe sex.

There is no cure for AIDS. People can live with AIDS for many years if they get proper care. Healthy eating, exercise, a clean environment and a positive mental attitude can make a big difference. [See a healthy diet for people living with AIDS]. There are also many medicines that can help to fight the infections that easily kill people with AIDS. Many of them are available at clinics and the government is working to get more affordable medicines to people who need them.

In first world countries people are treated with antiretroviral drugs that strengthen their immune system and slow down the virus. These drugs cannot cure you, but sometimes help people live healthy lives for longer. These drugs can be very dangerous if they are not properly taken and they also cost thousands of Rands per month for each patient. If you can afford to take drugs like AZT you also need to go for regular tests to check your white blood cells so that you can get the correct dosage of the drugs. These testes can only be done in laboratories and also cost a lot of money. Our health system cannot presently afford to give these drugs to all people and also does not have the infrastructure to monitor their use.

Mother to child infection can be limited in some cases by giving the mother anti-retroviral drugs. The Department of Health is doing research programmes in all provinces with these drugs, but they have not yet been approved as safe for general use.

The rights of people living with AIDS

People with HIV and AIDS in South Africa are protected by our Bill Of Rights and have the same rights which protects all citizens.

Insurance companies can insist on people being tested for HIV and may refuse life insurance. But many insurance companies do have special policies for people who are HIV positive.


We included this summary of the government's strategy on HIV and AIDS to help you understand how government plans to fight this epidemic.


The government has drawn up a strategy to fight AIDS that seeks to unite all sectors in a common programme. It is important to understand this strategy and to see where our campaign can support and deepen the government plan.

The national health department is the main driver of a strategic plan to coordinate the fight against AIDS by the whole country. Various government departments and sectors were consulted in the drawing up of this plan. These include traditional healers, business and religious organisations. The priority areas in this plan are:


Unprotected sex and having many sexual partners are the main reasons for the spread of the disease.

In South Africa, the underlying causes of the rapid spread of AIDS include social and economic factors such as poverty, lack of access to health and social services, migrant labour, sex workers, the low status of women, illiteracy, lack of formal education, stigma and discrimination. The high rate of rape also exposes women to HIV. The national plan addresses all these issues.

Other health conditions which are linked to the HIV and AIDS epidemic are:


There are also a number of weaknesses related to capacity, resources and lack of coordination in what was done so far and the plan tries to address these.



The main strategies that will be used are:


The strategy is guided be a set of principles:







This plan can only succeed if all sectors of society join in the partnership to win the fight against HIV and AIDS. The underlying causes like poverty also need to be addressed. This plan will be assessed and updated.

  1. How to run an HIV and AIDS campaign

To run an effective campaign you have to have a STATEGY that involves the following:

The main aims of tan HIV and AIDS campaign should be:

Achieving these aims will take years and we cannot run this campaign in a few months with lots of publicity and little follow-up. Organisations have to do ongoing work on a long-term campaign.

Government concentrates on education, prevention, treatment, care and research into vaccines. Organisations that lead in our society can:

Campaign tasks:

Organisations with a national leadership should strategise about how their leaders can help to change public attitudes. This can involve things like:

 Campaign action at local level can include the following five key things:

  1. Running a broad public education campaign about prevention of AIDS, non-discrimination and care for people living with AIDS, that aims to reach as many people as possible
  2. Organising local awareness raising events and campaigns to change sexual behaviour and attitudes to people with AIDS
  3. Creating openness about the disease by speaking about it, publicly supporting people who are open and encouraging voluntary testing
  4. Organising support for people with AIDS by mobilising volunteers into community care projects
  5. Organising community support and care for AIDS orphans

The AIDS campaign should reach every person in our community in some way, but we should also target specific sectors to make sure different parts of the campaign are effective.

For the education and prevention part of the campaign we must ask: who is most likely to get AIDS and/or to spread the virus?

Our actions should target the following vulnerable groups:

For the parts of our campaign that creates awareness and openness we should ask: who can most influence people's attitudes?

We should try and involve people like:

For the support and community care part of our campaign we should ask: who will benefit most from care and support and who can we draw in to help?

Those that will benefit most are:

Those whom we can draw in to help could be:

We would also have to work closely with government health and welfare services and workers, since they will work with and support community care initiatives.

A very important part of your strategy is the broad message you want to communicate and the slogan that sums it up. "Message themes" are the ideas we try to get across in everything we say and do. A campaign message is usually only a few sentences long, but it is used as the basis for all speeches, pamphlets, radio interviews, etc. A campaign will have much more impact if the message is clear and if everyone involved keeps saying the same things. If a campaign is both national and local it is important to create a campaign identity by using a uniform slogan and message.

Here are some examples:

The Treatment Action Campaign encourages people to wear T-shirts with the slogan "HIV positive". This helps to bring AIDS awareness out to the public.

The slogan of the ANC-lead HIV and AIDS campaign is: "Together we can" and different endings can be added to this slogan. For example ".. prevent the spread of AIDS" or ".. care for orphans."

The Love Life campaign has many different slogans that appeal to young people.

Your organisation should decide what your main messages are. Here are some examples:

Message on the importance of the struggle against AIDS:

Messages for prevention:

Messages to promote openness, support and care and end discrimination

Each organisation could add their own message themes, but it is important that we all try to reinforce the ones above. We should avoid situations where the public gets confused because organisations have totally conflicting messages.

Campaign methods should match the aims and main tasks of the campaign. We will look at six main areas of campaign action and give some tips for methods that can be used. The areas are:

  1. Public Education
  2. Awareness raising
  3. Openness about AIDS and people living with AIDS
  4. Care for people who are sick with AIDS
  5. Care for orphans
  6. Motivating other people to get involved
  1. Public education

Public education should aim to get to as many people as possible to educate them about prevention and issues like non-discrimination and support for people living with AIDS. Always remember to select your target groups carefully and to stick to the message themes. Here are some ideas:


1.Do you know anyone?Questions to audience5 minutes
[Ask the audience to put up their hands if they know anyone they think died of AIDS. Most people will put up their hands. Then ask them whether it was publicly admitted at the funeral, that the person had AIDS. Few will put up their hands. Use this to lead to next question]
2.Why is there a silence around AIDS?Buzz groups15 minutes
[ Ask people to discuss this question with two people next to them for five minutes. Then get each group to make one point only until all points are out. Add your own from the manual if they leave some out.]
3.Facts about AIDS and local servicesInput
20 minutes
10 minutes
[ Use the introduction and Part 1 of the manual to do an input on AIDS. Add any local information on services that you can find. Allow for questions]
4.What can we do?Group discussion
Reportback + discussion
30 minutes
20 minutes
[ Break people into groups of 5-10 and ask them to discuss these two questions:
  1. What can we do to protect ourselves against infection?
  2. What can we do to help people living with AIDS and orphans in our community?

After 30 minutes let each group make a brief report. Add in some of the things that are being done locally and ask people to join any projects that exist.]

5.Personal pledgesIndividual task15 minutes
[Ask people to each think of a pledge (promise) they can make about what they will change in their attitudes or behaviour after this workshop. Give them a few minutes and then go around the room and let each person speak. If you are recruiting volunteers - have forms for people to sign up]
6.Close and thank people
  1. Awareness raising

Awareness campaigns are used to make issues visible and to change public attitudes. They should aim to get publicity and to directly reach thousands of people. Be sensitive in the way you campaign. People are easily turned away by campaigns that are too aggressive or negative. Here are some methods you could use:

  1. Openness about AIDS and people living with AIDS

We have to actively promote openness about AIDS and a more supportive environment for people living with AIDS. Unless we bring the disease into the open we cannot deal with it effectively. If we cannot break the silence in our own ranks we cannot expect society to do so. As organisations we can:

  1. Support and care for people living with AIDS.

An important focus in a campaign should be to provide better support and care for people living with AIDS.

Many people who are HIV positive can lead long and productive lives if they look after their health. The immune system is weakened by the virus and many people die from ordinary illnesses like flu because their bodies are too weak to fight the illness.

Emotional and mental health are also important. People living with AIDS need support from their communities and from each other.

As organisations we can:

Keeping a healthy body

People living with HIV or AIDS need different foods from healthy people. HIV and AIDS and the medicines people have to take can make you lose a lot of weight, feel cold all the time and get serious stomach problems. This will make you weaker and when you are weak you can more easily get serious infections. Because you easily get infections it is also very important to clean and cook food properly and to drink only clean water.

Good food

  • Drink two litres of water a day
  • Drink sour milk, milk or yoghurt
  • Eat beans, lentils, eggs or meat every day if you can - beans are just as good as meat if you put a tablespoon of uncooked sunflower oil with it before serving.
  • All vegetables and fruits are very good
  • For a healthy stomach eat raw garlic, raw carrots or dried pumpkin seeds.
  • Eat a lot of grains and starch - maize, rice, sorghum, brown bread

Bad foods

  • Sugar is very bad for the immune system and causes stomach problems
  • Fried foods and cooked oils stop the stomach from being able to digest food
  • Spicy food can also cause stomach upsets - do not eat too much


  • Keep yourself occupied and interested in things to avoid depression
  • Try to exercise without straining yourself
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Find people you can talk to about your feelings

Do not:

  • Smoke, drink or use addictive drugs
  • Go on diet or lose too much weight

People who are bedridden

For those people who are seriously ill we must try to mobilise volunteers to help with community care projects.

Many people living with AIDS become weak and bedridden. There is not enough space for all of them to be looked after in hospitals and most people are cared for by their families. In many cases the sick person was a breadwinner and is a parent. Their children often become the main carers and they themselves need support.

Community care projects have been set up in many parts of Africa. This is how they work:

Community care projects work best if they are joint projects coordinated between health and welfare services and community organisations. They must be well coordinated and managed since many people will depend on them for basic care.

 Local municipalities can also play a big role in mobilising and supporting community care projects.

As organisations we can mobilise volunteers to work with the department of health, local welfare organisations and churches. Volunteers will have to be trained and could get some basic qualifications from training courses. In some areas unemployed school-leavers have been targeted as volunteers.

  1. Community care for AIDS orphans

In many communities there are already projects to help care for orphans. They are not reaching everyone and especially in poor rural areas little is being done. AIDS orphans can access government services and financial support, but many do not know how.

We cannot build enough orphanages to look after everyone and many experts believe that community care is much better for children. Community care can take a number of forms:

None of these are easy to organise - you need help from the Department of Social Services or organisations like Child Welfare Society. Foster parents should get some training and should be monitored so that they do not just do it for the money.

Grants for orphans can only be accessed if the child has a birth certificate and if the parent/s deaths are registered.

Organisations could:

  1. Motivating other people to get involved

Use this table when you are talking to any of the sectors listed here. It will give you some ideas about what you can ask them to do.

SectorPublic education/ awareness raising/ opennessCommunity care for people living with AIDS or orphans
Community organisationsHold discussion and education meetings around AIDS, and what we can do.Organise local campaigns and eventsCreate a culture of support for people living with AIDS.Recruit volunteers for community care programmesWork with welfare and health servicesPressurise municipality to get involved
Local welfare organisations and NGOsGive talks and workshops at schools, churches and organisational or community meetings.Monitor health, welfare and other services and lobby for improvements, eg. For health services to work with volunteer care givers.Organise care projects for people living with AIDS and orphansTrain care volunteersTrain foster parentsSupport child headed households
Trade unionsEducate members and encourage openness and testing.
Engage employers in programmes.
Raise awareness and work to change men's attitudes
Create positive role models
Protect rights of workers living with AIDS
Pressurise workplaces to develop policies
Push for treatment and support programmes in workplaces
Local municipalities and councillorsBring together all stakeholders to develop a local plan for dealing with AIDS
Support education programmes or initiate them
Do research about needs, identify support services and strengthen them.
Politicians take the lead to create positive role models and openness.
BusinessGet own house in order with good education programmes, policies and services.
Support community programmes
Practice non-discrimination in employment
Support sick employees or orphans from deceased employees
Health WorkersRun education programmes in community and clinics, on prevention, treatment, testing and care
Openly discuss AIDS with all patients and encourage testing.
Counselling for positive people
Training and coordination of home care volunteers
Compassionate and good treatment for patients
Social workersCommunity education programmes
Rights education about laws and grants
Counsel clients who are positive
Help set up community care projects
Train and monitor volunteers and foster parents
Help clients access grants
Student organisationsEducation and awareness programmes
Create role models
Encourage openness and testing
Set up counselling services
Recruit students to assist as volunteers in community care projects
TeachersLife skills training in classes.
Encourage openness and try to change attitudes of boys towards girls
Identify families in need
Provide counselling and support
Recruit volunteers to provide care for orphans
Cultural and sport clubsCultural events like plays and songs against AIDS. Sports events focus on AIDS awareness.
Hold workshops and invite speakers
Support people who are positive
Raise funds and recruit volunteers
Religious leadersPromote openness and hold workshops
Remove stigma of "sin" Teach responsible behaviour
Support role models and promote testing
Set up counselling and care projects for people with AIDS and orphans

        - For information, advice and contacts with services in your area

If you have comments on how we can improve this guide, fax them to: ETU at 021 434 5550, or eMail us at


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