THE ROLE OF BEHAVIOR CHANGE COMMUNICATION (BCC) IN HIV AND AIDS PREVENTION
BCC is an integral component of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support program. It has a number of different but interrelated roles. Effective BCC can:
- Increase knowledge. BCC can ensure that people are given the basic facts about HIV and AIDS in a language or visual medium (or any other medium that they can understand and relate to).
- Stimulate community dialogue. BCC can encourage community and national discussions on the basic facts of HIV/AIDS and the underlying factors that contribute to the epidemic, such as risk behaviors and risk settings, environments and cultural practices related to sex and sexuality, and marginalized practices (such as drug use) that create these conditions. It can also stimulate discussion of healthcare-seeking behaviors for prevention, care and support.
- Promote essential attitude change. BCC can lead to appropriate attitudinal changes about, for example, perceived personal risk of HIV infection, belief in the right to and responsibility for safe practices and health supporting services, compassionate and non-judgmental provision of services, greater open-mindedness concerning gender roles and increasing the basic rights of those vulnerable to and affected by HIV and AIDS.
- Reduce stigma and discrimination. Communication about HIV prevention and AIDS mitigation should address stigma and discrimination and attempt to influence social responses to them (see below).
- Create a demand for information and services. BCC can spur individuals and communities to demand information on HIV/AIDS and appropriate services.
- Advocate. BCC can lead policymakers and opinion leaders toward effective approaches to the epidemic.
- Promote services for prevention, care and support. BCC can promote services for STIs, intravenous drug users (IDUs), orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs); voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) for mother-to-child transmission (MTCT); support groups for PLHA; clinical care for opportunistic infections; and social and economic support. BCC is also an integral component of these services.
- Improve skills and sense of self-efficacy. BCC programs can focus on teaching or reinforcing new skills and behaviors, such as condom use, negotiating safer sex and safe injecting practices. It can contribute to development of a sense of confidence in making and acting on decisions.