KZN HEALTH MEC unveils new billboards promoting responsible sexual behaviour,
adherence to anti-retroviral treatment and PrEP
11 September 2023
In an ongoing effort to promote healthier lifestyles and combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane has officially unveiled a series of new and eye-catching
billboards that are being erected across the province.
These billboards, which have been a hit on social media, were officially unveiled on Friday, live on the Department's multimedia programme, KZN Health Chat.
They are designed to educate and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, and promote responsible sexual behaviour such as condom use, knowing one's HIV status, adherence to anti-retroviral treatment (ART),
prevent unplanned pregnancy, and to promote the role of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which protects against HIV infection.
The billboards are being strategically placed in various high-traffic areas, in order to capture the attention of people most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and those at risk.
Unpacking the rationale behind the new billboards, MEC Simelane said Government remained committed to tackling HIV/AIDS head-on, and that there was a great need to re-invigorate and keep relevant all HIV/AIDS messaging
pertaining to its general awareness, prevention, treatment and adherence to treatment.
"Language is a very powerful tool. But most of our messaging on HIV/AIDS is old, and has ended up sounding dull. When someone says, 'Protect yourself, wear a condom,' it might go above people's
heads - especially when it comes to young people - because it's an old message that even we grew up hearing. It's something we hear every day."
"My team and I then sat down and said, 'What messages can we come up with?' Because promoting responsible sexual behaviour and adherence to treatment is extremely important."
The results were six catchy billboards written in township parlance and youth slang, with the following messages:
- Dwadla i-rubber, ugabhe i-ghost #FakiCondom (Slip a rubber on, and steer clear of trouble)
- Ukuphusha ngo-brown kuzokufaka eghostini! #FakiCondom (Going in 'raw' will put you in trouble)
- You tested HIV+? Don't tatazel, Kuyaphileka nale shandisi! (You tested HIV positive? Don't panic; you can live with HIV)
- Gcwala ngama-ARV ukuze uhlale umoja! (Adhere to your treatment, so you can stay okay)
- Ungalilahli isayidi, hlala emashini yama-ARV ukuze uhlale omoja! (Don't fall by the wayside, stay on course by adhering to your Anti-Retroviral Treament so you can stay okay.)
- "Ivale mfana" - Sizowudl'u-PrEP i-HIV ize igubhe umswarelo (We'll take our PrEP and stay protected from HIV until it says "sorry")
The new marketing campaign has been met with a favourable response from many users of social media, some of whom have branded it "eye-catching", "interesting" and "on point."
MEC Simelane said she had received numerous private messages from people complimenting her on the campaign, and that some of her colleagues in the provincial Cabinet had shared graphics
of the billboards on their social media accounts.
She said she was pleased the campaign had sparked a new conversation pertaining to HIV/AIDS, sexually-transmitted infections and its associated risks.
"We're very happy with the feedback we are receiving. Once you start to hear people talking about your messaging, when some people compliment it and even if others are critical of it,
then you know you've done something right. That is what we wanted - to spark a conversation," she said.
"It remains vital for people to use condoms, to get tested and know their HIV status. Through this messaging, we're also saying, if you test positive, it's not the end of the world.
Your matter will be treated with confidentiality, and you can get your medication and adhere to the treatment programme, because it's there and available free of charge."
MEC Simelane also revealed that the Department had been struggling to popularise PrEP, which offers protection against HIV infection - until now.
"We've been talking about PrEP for quite some time. We've stood on trees, gone to taxi ranks, and spoke on loudspeakers about it, for a very long time. Yet, no one was asking us about it,
until this new campaign. Today, everyone is talking about it. People are taking note of these messages. And that's what we wanted."
MEC Simelane has also revealed that there will be another round of new HIV/Aids messaging, which will target the generation of "Ama-2000", as well as teenagers.
Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health