Sunday, 10 June 2012

"क्या बलबीर पाशा को एड्स होगा"? ‘Will Balbir Pasha Get AIDS?

The ‘Will Balbir Pasha Get AIDS?’ campaign formed part of PSI India’s Operation Lighthouse, an HIV/AIDS prevention programme implemented in 12 major port communities in India. The programme aimed to reduce rates of unsafe sex by motivating people to consistently use condoms, call the confidential HIV/AIDS hotline, and use the Voluntary Counselling and Treatment services.
The campaign was built around a fictional character called Balbir Pasha. It used a storyboard to place him in various high-risk sexual situations, with unknown outcomes. This provided a realistic behavioural model for urban men living in Mumbai. Using a mixture of outdoor communications, television and radio messaging, and comprehensive newspaper exposure, the campaign succeeded in personalising HIV risk and bringing the topic of HIV/AIDS into the public sphere.

  • Increase in proportion of individuals reporting last-time condom usage with commercial sex   workers from 87 per cent to 92 per cent
  • Threefold increase in retail sales of condoms in the red light district
  • Increase in Voluntary Counselling and Treatment services usage.

India is home to the third largest number of HIV infected people in the world. In 2002 there were an estimated 3.5 to 4 million HIV-positive people living in India (this has since been revised downwards, with an estimated 2.3 million people in India living with HIV in 2009).

Approximately 80 per cent of HIV cases in India have been attributed to heterosexual encounters and are concentrated among high-risk groups including commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and injecting drug users, as well as truck drivers and migrant workers. Staggering misconceptions regarding HIV/AIDS transmission as well as a reluctance to publicly discuss HIV/AIDS has fuelled the spread of HIV across India.

Against this backdrop, Population Services International (PSI) received funding from USAID in 2001 for five years to develop and implement programmes across India aimed at reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The subsequent programme, Operation Lighthouse (OPL), was conducted in 12 major port communities across India: Chennai, Goa, Haldia, Kandla, Kochi, Kolkata, Mangalore, Mumbai, Paradip, Tuticorin, Vashi, and Vishakhapatnam. India’s port cities and surrounding communities were the chosen focus of the programmes because these areas serve as points of convergence for people at highest risk of contracting HIV and transmitting it to others. Port communities directly and indirectly employ large numbers of men – formal and informal port workers, truck drivers and their helpers, migrant workers, fishermen, day labourers and others – many of whom spend significant parts of their lives away from their families and who move continuously between urban and rural environments.

Unlike previous programmes, OPL sought to develop public health campaigns that successfully engaged with at-risk individuals and personalised the risks for the individuals. One of the biggest OPL campaigns was conducted in Mumbai and is the focus of this case study. PSI had been conducting work with commercial sex workers in Mumbai’s red light districts since 1991. Mumbai was the home of the largest red light district in India, and so previous work had focused on educating and empowering the 6,000 to 10,000 commercial sex workers operating in the red light district. The work of OPL would instead work to motivate the clients of sex workers to practice safe sex across the city in a sustained and effective manner.

Source: PSI

1 comment:

  1. I interned with PSI in 2008. Great info, thank you!