HIV in Singapore
To extend the impact of our effort to curb the spread of HIV, we propose to continue and improve on our outreach effort targeted at the Chinese speaking Geylang crowd, and to initiate a campaign targeted at youths. The main objective of both efforts would be to encourage condom use and promote HIV testing as means to prevent the spread of HIV.
On top of having both campaigns, we would like to propose making HIV testing more convenient by assisting with the implementation of a Mobile HIV Testing Van (MTV) service.
Continuing and Improving Current Efforts to Reach Out to the Chinese Speaking Geylang Crowd
1. Printing more Pamphlets
Having conducted an outreach event at Geylang, we found that the majority of our target audience read the educational pamphlet, and did so with a certain measure of contemplation – an indication of their rational riders being influenced by facts such as the ability to prolong one’s life if early treatment for HIV is sought, the benefits of condom usage and where the HIV test can be taken. Due to the limited number of pamphlets printed thus far, we foresee that more will be needed for future outreach events. Thus, we propose to have part of the budget allocated for this purpose.
2. Printing of Taglines Encouraging Condom Usage on Condom Covers. Redesigning the box used to contain condoms for distribution.
Our group conceived a series of short, catchy taglines to encourage condom use. Condom covers with these taglines could be produced and distributed during outreach events. The taglines conceived were meant to direct our audience’s emotional elephants by evoking positive feelings about condom use – by asserting that love making can be equally pleasurable even when condoms are worn.
To further engage our audience’s emotional elephants, we propose that an effort be made to conceive suitably ‘hard’ messages evoking anxiety and fear by highlighting the risks of doing away with condoms. Some of these ‘hard’ taglines could put across the message an underestimation of the one’s chances of contracting HIV is a contributing factor leading to HIV infection. By focusing attention on this ‘black swan’ in HIV being closer to home than it is often thought to be, our target audience may be encouraged to use condoms. These ‘hard’ messages could then be similarly printed on condom covers and distributed during outreach events together with those having ‘soft’ taglines, thus producing a carrot and stick effect that could further improve our effort to encourage condom usage.
Also, the boxes used to store condoms could be changed to make it less obvious that it contains condoms, as it currently is. The purpose of doing so would be to encourage the taking up of these condoms, as regardless of whether those approached are seeking paid sex or not, they may nonetheless avoid accepting the condoms altogether because they do not wish to be seen in public as having done so, as evidenced when approaching some members of the public. To overcome such reluctance, the condoms (with the taglines printed on their covers) could be packed into larger rectangular top opening boxes such as those containing sweets (like how the sweet Ricola is packaged), with plain messages such ‘specially for you’ as that would serve to mask the true contents of the package.
3. Associating Condom Use and Regular HIV Testing with Responsible Behaviour
In addition to distributing condoms and educational pamphlets, we propose to utilise the behaviour changing effects of social identity promotion to encourage condom usage and regular HIV testing.
Posters juxtaposing images of Chinese males, representing all adult age groups, with condom use messages and them going for regular HIV testing could be printed and put up at places where our target audience often congregate – lanes leading to coffee shops and eateries along Geylang. These posters would portray these males as being socially responsible. As most would not wish to be labelled as irresponsible, the effects of projecting such an image could serve to encourage condom use and regular HIV testing.
This effort to create such a social identity could be made more effective if a greater number of older volunteers (over 40s) are involved in such outreach events. These older volunteers could serve as leading lights of their age group and potentially relate better with our target audience, since both could see each other as peers. As there is a lack of volunteers belonging to this age group, we propose that an effort be made to seek such volunteers. One way we could do so would be to seek volunteers from grassroots organisations such as community clubs and public housing residents committees (RCs), since these bodies consist of people with an existing spirit of volunteerism and mainly belong to this age group.
Extending our Impact to another Target Group – Youths/Young Adults
Why Youths/Young Adults?
It can be reasonably inferred from statistical data that youths (below 20) and young adults (20-30) are either becoming more sexually active or engaging in riskier sexual behaviour. The number of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) amongst youths rocketed by 118% between 2000 and 2008, while that of young adults increased by 67% during the same period1. Given these societal trends, this group seems increasing vulnerable to contracting HIV. Thus, we propose to mount a HIV prevention effort targeted at this group through similar means such as the promotion of condom use, regular HIV testing and creating a social identity to promote responsible sexual behaviour.
1. Going to Where Youths/Young Adults Are
Instead of focusing on the Geylang red-light district, we propose establishing a presence at places where there’s a higher concentration of youths/young adults who are more likely to be sexually active and or engage in regrettable sexual behaviour. Some of these places would include entertainment nightspots such as clubs and pubs where the flow of alcohol and its adverse intoxicating effects are more keenly felt.
2. Distributing Educational Pamphlets and Condoms
The content of the educational pamphlets targeted at the Chinese speaking Geylang crowd could be translated into English to cater to the younger set. The pamphlets could also include information, that would otherwise be absent in the Chinese-language version targeting the older crowd, directing our audience to social media sites (such as Facebook) where Action for Aids has a presence.
We also propose modifying the taglines to be printed on condom covers, to appeal to the younger crowd. These taglines could include cheeky English language ones that the young can relate to.
As with the Chinese speaking Geylang crowd, we propose to craft a social identity for the young who are sexually active, that would positively associate them with condom use and having regular HIV tests, by promoting their ‘clear’ HIV status as an asset.
Assisting Action for Aids with the Implementation of a Mobile HIV Testing Van (MTV) Service
Action for Aids (AFA) has plans to introduce a MTV service, to make HIV testing more convenient. Otherwise, AFA only has one test site at Kelantan Lane that may be out of the way.
As the operational costs of such a van are high, and that the service will have to be chargeable, we propose committing part of our $1000 budget to subsidising these tests (the ones at AFA’s Anonymous Test Site cost $30) during the initial phase of the van’s operation, so as to allow the public to first acquaint themselves with the quality and safety of the service provided.