Messaging matters: achieving equity in the HIV response through public health communication.
Public health messages shape how the world understands the HIV epidemic. Considerable inequalities remain in HIV care continuum indicators by subpopulation and geography (eg, highest infection and mortality burden among men who have sex with men and people who live in sub-Saharan Africa). Health equity-focused approaches are necessary in this next decade to close gaps in the HIV epidemic. Between 1981 and 1989, HIV messages triggered fear and victim blaming, and highlighted behaviours of a few marginalised groups as deviant. Between 1990 and 1999, messages signalled that HIV was a growing challenge for the world and required multisector approaches that addressed structural drivers of inequality. Between 2000 and 2009, messages highlighted universal testing, while advances in HIV testing made these messages easier for individuals to respond to than in previous decades. Currently, messages signal that ending HIV is possible, people can live productive lives with HIV, and transmission to people without HIV can be eliminated. Public health messaging about the HIV epidemic has evolved substantially over the past 40 years. Future HIV messaging should be driven by health equity principles that include an increased representation of key populations in message design and dissemination, transparency of funding, and communicating any impact that campaigns have had on closing health inequalities.
Taggart, T; Ritchwood, TD; Nyhan, K; Ransome, Y
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