Three-and-a-half decades on, no cure or vaccine is yet on the horizon for HIV, making effective behavior change communication (BCC) the key preventive strategy. Despite considerable success, HIV/AIDS BCC efforts have long been criticized for their primary focus on the individual-level field of influence, drawing on the more reductionist view of causation at the individual level. In view of this, we conducted a series of studies that employed a household survey, field experiment, and textual content analysis, and explored the macro-social-level effects of HIV/AIDS-related media and messages on HIV/AIDS cognitive and affective outcomes in Ethiopia. Against a backdrop of epidemiological and socioecological differences, urban versus rural residence has emerged as an important community-level factor that impacts HIV/AIDS-related media and message consumption processes and associated outcomes. The central thread crossing through the six studies included in this paper demonstrates that urban and rural people in high HIV prevalence contexts differ in their concern about and information needs on HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS-related media use, and HIV/AIDS-related cognitive and affective outcomes, as well as in their reaction to differently designed/framed HIV prevention messages. This paper proposes that HIV prevention media and message effects in high epidemic situations should be considered from a larger community-level perspective and calls for a socioecological approach to AIDS communication in the hard-hit sub-Saharan Africa. With a number of concrete recommendations to current and future HIV/AIDS BCC efforts in the region, the study joins an emerging body of health communication literature and theorizing that suggests the need to consider media and message effects from a macro-social perspective.
HIV/AIDS Communication Inequalities and Associated Cognitive and Affective Outcomes: A Call for a Socioecological Approach to AIDS Communication in Sub-Saharan Africa.