Phase two of Balbir Pasha campaign against AIDS launched

MUMBAI: Non governmental organisation (NGO) Population Services International (PSI), today announced the launch of its self-risk perception campaign, Balbir Pasha Phase Two in Mumbai.

The mass media campaign for HIV/AIDS prevention, was launched this month and will continue till February 2005. The campaign is spread across three phases.



PSI communications manager Kavita Jayaraman said, "Phase Two of the Balbir Pasha campaign has been evolved from the learnings of Phase One. Our objective is to reduce the stigma and discrimination connected with HIV/AIDS and make it easy to discuss. This is critical to raise the 'risk perception' among men indulging in high risk behaviour."



The objective of the Balbir Pasha phase two campaign are:

1) To personalise the risk of the HIV/AIDS among those men practicing high risk sexual behaviour,

2) To engage the target group with the issues related to HIV/AIDS and

3) To motivate action ? in terms of seeking information through the helpline or visiting the VCT/STI centres.



After the findings of a research undertaken by PSI, the insights that are being addressed in this new campaign are:

1) Addressing married men and the risk they put their families into when they indulge in extra-martial affairs,

2) Not wearing a condom is a misplaced sign of being macho,

3) Sexual relationships with any non-spousal partner put one at risk of contracting HIV.

The Balbir Pasha Phase Two campaign will tackle issues closely related to personal risk perception. Outdoor hoardings, bus shelters, press, cinema theatres, television, cable and radio will be used to propagate the campaign.

PSI?s innovative integrated intervention, mass media campaign and behaviour change programme under Operation Light House in the last two years has exposed the staggering misconceptions surrounding HIV transmission and risk assessment among the vulnerable population in the country.

Asserting the need for a direct and targeted campaign, which brings the HIV/AIDS issue into the public domain, PSI national HIV/AIDS coordinator Dr Shilpa Merchant said, "The Balbir Pasha phase one consumer study indicates that the campaign has brought significant changes in the social norms amongst the vulnerable population. This indicates that if on a sustained basis the target group is exposed to messages on HIV/ AIDS then there will be a positive shift towards practicing safer sex and less indulgence in high risk behaviour."

The impact that the Balbir Pasha phase one campaign created among the target group was revealed by an independent research agency TNS Mode. The study revealed significant behavior changes among the target group, which are as follows:

1) Proportion of target audience who felt at risk for HIV if they had sex with healthy looking commercial sex workers (CSWs) increased from 30 per cent to 56 per cent; while risk associated with 'expensive' CSWs increased from 50 per cent to 72 per cent.

2) Increase in proportion of individuals reporting last-time condom usage with CSWs from 87 per cent to 92 per cent.

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