UKZN Staff and Students contribute to International AIDS ConferenceGeneral

Seen are UKZN staff and students who presented papers at the International AIDS conference.Seen are UKZN staff and students who presented papers at the International AIDS conference.

Four students and a staff member from the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) within the College of Humanities  made contributions to the 2016 International AIDS conference at the Durban ICC.

They were CAPRISA scientist, Dr Eliza Govender; CCMS lecturer, Ms Phiwe Nota; PhD students Ms Angella Napakol and Ms Yonela Vukapi, and master’s student, Ms Gina Coetzee.

Govender monitored and presented a poster titled: “Influences of Age, Geo-spatial Location and Type of Sexual Encounters with PrEP Use in South Africa: Positioning Microbicides for Better Product Uptake” at the 2016 International AIDS Conference.

This study used the opportunity of post-trial access to tenofovir gel for the CAPRISA 004 women (trial) and non-trial women from three geo-spatial settings - urban, rural and semi-urban. The aim was to identify the profile of women most likely to use HIV prevention technologies, understand what influences user choices and how this contributes to the development of a brand identity that is culturally relevant and context specific.

The study found that most urban women identified ‘confidence, sexiness and classy’ as an indicator of how they would like to brand PrEP, while rural women focused on highlighting that the use of PrEP indicates respect, responsibility and confidence. The majority of urban and rural women in the study correlated adolescent sexual activity as an indicator of product readiness. Various sexual encounters further determined the types of HIV prevention technologies women would consider.

Nota and Vukapi were co-authors on this poster presentation and were also UNAIDS interns for the duration of the conference.

PhD student, Napakol examined how New Vision and Monitor newspapers in Uganda portrayed people affected with HIV/AIDS. According to Napakol, the results of the study indicated a low, albeit gradual, increase in coverage and reference to the affected populations. However, sources for media reports about HIV/AIDS, were invisible.

‘What the media covers, and what/who the media gets information from shapes the content of the message that is eventually produced. Such messages should consider feedback from both the experts and people affected by HIV/AIDS given that their perspectives lend a humane experience and help to create information or policies that are relevant.

‘Agreement remains that the media does set both public and policy agenda. Therefore, in the long run, omitting the voice of affected people during coverage could undermine effective policy development and HIV/AIDS prevention efforts,’ said Napakol.

Dean and Head of the School of Applied Human Sciences Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize said: ‘Well done to all CCMS students and staff. You have done all of us proud.’

Melissa Mungroo