World AIDS Day 2022
Across the world, World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st. This year, UNAIDS highlights the need to bridge the inequalities that contribute to the AIDS pandemic. During COVID-19, we have seen firsthand how societal, cultural, political and economic factors can hinder progress in the area of public health. It is the marginalized that are more susceptible to infection, isolation, and discrimination as they lack the resources, tools and information needed to make optimal health decisions. According to the WHO, at the end of 2021, there were approximately 38.4 million people living with HIV, of which two-thirds (25.6 million) lived in the WHO African region.
This year, we look back on the ways in which we have intentionally worked to tackle the stigma and inequalities surrounding HIV/AIDS.
We understood that young people were disproportionately affected by HIV due a lack of education and cultural stigma. Many of them were located in disadvantaged populations, where the availability of reliable, medically accurate information was scarce. In order to tackle this problem, we developed a pedagogically sound curriculum that was made available in 13 languages and 26 versions across 82 countries.
In the early stages of developing our curriculum, we partnered with a myriad of stakeholders including experts, local and national governments, and community representatives to work through more than 500 iterations of the product design. This was followed by close partnerships with iconic celebrities who graciously lent their voices and caricatures to the videos. These proved to be highly beneficial for learner engagement, retention and trust.
Through rigorous research, we became aware that a discussion of stigmatized topics needed to be presented in a simplified, clear and engaging manner. We worked meticulously to ensure that our ‘Prevention Begins With Me’ content featured culturally-appropriate dialect and mannerisms. We maximized comfort for learning through the use of 2D imagery and analogies to communicate potentially sensitive content related to transmission. We also took into account gender specificity in creating customized animations to target different populations.
These methods have proven to be very successful in working to eliminate the inequalities that perpetuate the AIDS pandemic. If we all put our heads and hands together and keep at it, with creativity, empathy and commitment, we can make significant strides toward meeting the 2030 target to end AIDS.