Jiving with Science is a new public engagement initiative of the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies. The Africa Centre, a joint project of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Medical Research Council of Southern Africa, is an international HIV research facility with a partnership HIV testing, treatment and care programme run jointly with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.
It is based in rural, northern KwaZulu-Natal where the HIV epidemic is one of the most severe in the world with nearly one in two adults aged 35- 40 being infected. Jiving with Science aims to foster community discussion about scientific research and to bring evidence-based HIV health promoting messages to everyday spaces such as public transportation, leisure spaces and shopping precincts.
It involves developing, distributing and evaluating three CDs over two years. Each CD contains a radio-style information interview, interspersed with popular music, targeted HIV health promotion messages and calls to action. Two of the three CDs are now complete, and are being distributed free-of-charge to key stakeholders in the local community including taxi drivers, shebeen owners and hair salon operators. Taxis are the main mode of transport in the Africa Centre research area, with almost two-thirds of the population (an estimated 50 to 60 000) using a taxi on a weekly basis. Each has a CD player, although most operators only have a couple of CDs to play. Thus, the primary target audience in this initiative is the users of local mini-bus taxis. The Africa Centre anticipates that these informative CDs will improve the public understanding of HIV transmission and prevention strategies. Furthermore, through this project the Centre has engaged new sectors in the community who are now actively participating in its research and efforts to prevent HIV transmission. This project has also enabled the Africa Centre to engage partners in the music industry who, in line with social responsibility agendas, have waived the production rights on selected popular music tracks. In exchange the Centre has provided them with an opportunity to advertise and have their music heard in this often-inaccessible rural setting.
Jiving with science webpages
News date: 2011-03-08