Posted by Justin on October 25, 2017

The National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) with support from UNICEF will soon cover the whole country with broadcast programmes in its continued bid to increase its reach to adolescents as one of the key target audiences for HIV, AIDS, sexuality and reproductive health and rights information.

The first series of radio broadcasts dubbed ‘Test Your Life,’ started around mid-2016 on five private radio stations namely Hot FM in Lusaka, Breeze FM in Chipata, Eastern Province, Flava in Kitwe on the Copperbelt, New Generation in Solwezi of North Western and Falls FM in Livingstone, Zambia’s tourist capital in Southern Province.

The second phase stretching to all the 10 provinces will include Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Radio 1 and TV1, UNZA Radio in Lusaka, Byta FM in Choma, KNZ in Kabwe, Radio Mano in Kasama, FCC in Solwezi and KFM in Luapula while Flava and Breeze FM on the Copperbelt and Eastern Province respectively continue in the second round.

The 2017-2021 National AIDS Strategic Framework (NASF) identifies adolescents as one of the key populations because of high their vulnerabilities to HIV infection and associated challenges of managing the condition.

For example, according to the 2013-2014 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) HIV test data, HIV prevalence rates among adolescent girls and boys aged 15-19 is at 3.5 per cent for girls and 1.8 per cent for boys translating to around 28,000 girls and 16,000 boys living with HIV, hence the need to continue to prioritise HIV combination prevention with adolescents in Zambia.

Adolescent girls in this age group continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV due to behavioural, cultural and biological vulnerabilities to HIV infection.

In 2013-14, 7.2 per cent of sexually active adolescent girls reported having had sexual intercourse with a man who was 10 or more years older than them.

NAC Director of Policy and Planning John Mwale told radio and TV presenters at an orientation meeting recently that the Test Your Life radio and TV broadcasts were part of NAC’s efforts to empower adolescents with sufficient information to enable them avoid risky sexual behaviours among other goals.

“We at NAC are using the information accumulated from the community radio stations where we have piloted this programme to inform government’s approach to youth-focused HIV and other STI prevention, Sexual Reproductive Health and treatment policies,” said Mr Mwale.

With the engagement of 10 more private radio stations country wide along with ZNBC covering topics related to all sexual reproductive health issues, NAC will continue to work hand-in-hand with UNICEF to advocate for youth-friendly programmes and policies using the feedback from the target audience of the radio programmes.

Another innovation through which NAC is reaching adolescents with HIV and AIDS information is the Zambia U-Report, a UNICEF sponsored mobile phone platform using an SMS short code 878 linked to counselling services through the 990 voice code service currently managed by CHAMP Services Limited. 

Note: Compiled by NAC Communications Unit