Putting a Positive Spin on HIV/AIDS: PreventAIDS South Africa

Thursday, 29 August, 2002 - 23:00

PreventAIDS South Africa (SA) is a media project that was established in 1999 to help lessen the public's stigmatisation of people living with HIV/AIDS and to raise mo

PreventAIDS South Africa (SA) is a media project that was established in 1999 to help lessen the public's stigmatisation of people living with HIV/AIDS and to raise money for children and orphans affected by HIV/AIDS. The project achieves its vision by pairing the photographs of famous South Africans with people living with AIDS in an effort to personalise the disease, offer solidarity and hope, and decrease the stigmatisation. The project has been conceptualised as a low budget high output scheme that achieves its objectives by co-operating with other organisations working in the HIV/AIDS field.

Establish Alliances with organisations that have funds, services and skills to offer

In order to achieve its objective, PreventAIDS has engaged in four alliances against HIV/AIDS: photographic, advertising, media and e-commerce. For alliance partners, PreventAIDS primarily targets other initiatives and organisations working in the field of HIV/AIDS care and support.

PreventAIDS’ objectives are closely tied into those of other organisations working in the HIV/AIDS field. Thus, there are no permanent staff working on the project. Staff from partner organisations integrate the project’s activities into their routine, carrying out all activities.

For example, The National Association for People Living with HIV and AIDS South Africa (NAPWA) administers the funding being received towards the project’s approximately five hundred thousand Rand budget. Soul City, which has gained prominence for effectively utilising the media as a medium to educate people about development issues has assumed the responsibility for PreventAIDS’ media outcomes based research.

PreventAIDS is securing its budget through grants from individuals, businesses, foundations and government. Nevertheless, the project is also counting on anticipated proceeds from other innovative resource mobilisation strategies outlined below.

Get free media space

PreventAIDS aims to have their public service announcements seen by a wide audience for minimal cost. Thus, their strategy is to target media companies with a philanthropic arm and get them to commit to donating space for the printing of PreventAIDS photos and accompanying text. They also seek to have them commit to a certain number of free spaces over time.

Tag onto existing advertising on popular products

PreventAIDS is taking advantage of advertising opportunities available in the marketing of conventional consumer goods so that consumers will see their messages on the every day products they use. The project’s objective is to have its messages appear in a twelve per cent reserved voluntary advertisement space on more than 20 per cent of print advertisements, labeling and packaging materials. In other words, companies will be asked to dedicate 12 per cent of their advertising space to an HIV/AIDS message. Billboards, soft drinks and beer bottles are examples of some of the outdoor advertising and consumer goods identified. These messages are especially targeted at rural Africa and Asia.

Generate funds through e-commerce

PreventAIDS aims to generate a substantial amount of finance through e-commerce by entering into partnerships with for-profit e-commerce companies. At the time of each e-commerce purchase, the consumer will be offered the option of a click-on fractional percentage donation box. The Global Business Council Against HIV and AIDS has offered to help promote this service to the Vice President’s and Chief Executive Officers of e-commerce companies. Companies will be asked to place a box and message on their e-commerce sites after achieving consensus with PreventAIDS with respect to the wording, fractional percentage, time frame, auditing and routing of finances. These funds will be directed to the International Aids Fund.


Approximately twenty people from at least a dozen organisations are working on the preventAIDS project at various levels, mostly on a pro bono basis. To name but a few examples of support generated through its alliances, NAPWA is hosting the project’s public relations working group in its offices. The Positive Women’s Network SA is co-ordinating photographs from its members. Microsoft South Africa is providing IT referrals. In addition, the project has also secured the photographs of many respected luminaries including Desmond Tutu whose photograph was run in the first media poster and the honourable Graca Machel, proposed for the second poster. The first media poster has already appeared twice on the pages of the Independent Group’s newspapers in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban Cape Town and Kimberly.

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