Due to the ascendancy in the incidence of HIV on Ghanaian university campuses and the attitude of students regarding the STI it has become necessary for re-education of the student populace on the HIV issue.
Over the years, numerous HIV/AIDS campaigns have been run in the media – some successful, some not so successful. One of the identified reasons why some of these campaigns do not achieve their intended impact is due to the overly serious tone used in the communication. This consequently creates a scary perception of HIV/AIDS, misconceptions and reduces the enthusiasm of the target audience in taking any action.
We partnered with Campus Health, a youth health advocacy organization to create a virtual youth movement to discuss and understand issues relating to HIV/AIDS and sexual health.
Campus Health had identified the rising cases of HIV/AIDS on Ghanaian tertiary campuses and though there has been numerous campaigns on the said topic, they don’t seem to slow down the rapid increase in HIV/AIDS and sexual health related issues.
There was the need to use a different approach in communicating with these young people who had grown resistant to the old these campaigns are run, in a way then did not scare them away from the topic and encouraged them to take action.
Our primary focus was to encourage the target audience to get tested for HIV, re-educate on HIV myths and help the target audience understand and embrace Persons Living with HIV.
The primary target audience for the campaign, tertiary students, are used to particular type of language influenced by pop-culture and social media.
We set out to create a safe space for learning and sharing experiences through relatable content.
We communicated in a tone and language that the target audience were already used to, a more informal, friendly and playful tone. By leveraging humor and meme-like copy and imagery we created ads that communicated the essence of getting tested for STIs, knowing your HIV status and other sexual health related issues in a less scary manner – which was hitherto the case.
By using the hashtag #IfUKnowUKnow, a term already popular in the youth social circles, we emphasized the importance of knowing your status and knowing more about your sexual and reproductive health.
The one month long campaign led in an increase in HIV testing with our medical partner, HealthNet. A lot more students wanted to know their status as well as make enquiries on sexual health related issues.
There was also an increase in engagement as people joined the conversation and shared their sexual health experiences with the hashtag. The ads and content set a friendly and informal tone which took away the scare usually associated with such conversations and made it easier for the students to share experiences and take action to get tested.