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HIV Prevention Programs

The author, Helen Epstein, is a widely traveled scholar who has been keen to closely interview her target group. In her article, AIDS, Inc., she presents the various actions taken by different groups towards the AIDS pandemic. She seemed to be particularly concerned with the transmissions of HIV and the consequent effects on the social lives of South African people. The author is curious and inquisitive about the prevention programs and their effectiveness in the fight against AIDS. She discussed various cases she encounters, interviews and seminars she attends at the numerous programs she attends for her review.

In the article, the author shares her thoughts concerning the HIV prevention programs in South Africa. She has a logical appeal in her argument as shown by her various rhetoric s by which she tries to evoke sense into the readers. The author’s purpose is to derive the effectiveness of the programs implemented in South Africa (compared to those in use in other African nations such as Rwanda and Uganda). By the end of her articles, it is easy to agree with her line of thought because she puts out the facts of the initiatives and the clarity of claims gives a logical reason to accept the supporting evidence. My goal in this paper is to discuss the origin of interest in the HIV menace to the author and how she uses various methods to show her audience her analysis of interpretation of the loveLife Campaign in South Africa.

To complete this goal, I seek to discuss the following aspects of the article: the problem statement of the author, the presentation of the case study program (loveLife Campaign), the aims of the campaign and whether the aims were accomplished both from the view of the campaign’s target group and the management of the campaign. I also seek to point out the reasons and claims why I would concur with the author’s purpose.

Public controversy over the hesitancy over the prevalence of HIV in South Africa. While the infection rates increased and death rates tripled (Schneider, 54-67) mostly in the rural areas and Bantustans, the government and activists groups continued to raise accusations over each other. Amidst the battle, the reality that HIV was everyone’s problem had faded away despite the fact that numerous programs were in place to ensure that indeed everyone knew about the details of HIV (Epstein,152).

Owing to the attitudes of AIDS activists and the government towards AIDS, public health experts join hands to launch a HIV prevention program with aims that evoked the author’s questions over the validity of the program, “was it possible to reduce the spread of HIV without involving the HIV-positive people, activists and community groups that supported them?” The loveLife campaign seemed questionable despite the heavy funding from various funds and numerous endorsement from leaders, it received.

The director of loveLife, David Harrison outlines the aims and its programs. According to Harrison, most South Africans became sexually active long before the age the lost their virginity which increased the chances of multiple sex partners thereby the need to know what drove them into sex. It is clear that loveLife was trying to modernize the prevention campaigns which were previously “too depressing” by use of persuasive ad campaigns to attract more children. Harrison referred to loveLife as “a brand of positive lifestyle” that according to its creators, uses the sexy billboards to induce the young people into talking about sexuality in a positive manner.

The author is, however, caught with the fact that people “found those ads over sexualized and disturbing”. According to Michael Sinclair of Kaiser Foundation, the basis of the campaign was the “marketing campaign of the soft drink Sprite”. It was Harrison’s prediction that South African Youths would respond to the “lifestyle branding” which grew due to the “rise of brand advertising in the 1960’s”. loveLife wanted to be trendsetters to use the “cool effect” to influence the sexual behavior in the youths. This prompted the establishment of nationwide recreational centers called Y-centers.

The Y-centers, led by “loveLife GroundBreakers,” allowed any youth to become a member after completion of seminars about HIV, sexuality and growing-up among other training such as self-esteem (155). The author is distressed that even though the Y-centers involved a family planning clinic, it lacked the most crucial tools since it offered neither HIV testing nor treatment for AIDS symptoms. The author uses the style of vivid description to show the social-economic environment surrounding one of the Y-centers she is invited to.

Epstein further illustrates the validity of Harrison’s presentation of the program by the use of dialogue between one of the Groundbreakers and a group of teenagers about long-term transactional relationships (Dorrington, 49). However, she confirms her worst fears when told by the GroundBreaker that they talk about AIDS “indirectly” in their discussion groups. She questions the logic of talking about positive sexuality against the much avoided yet most important subject of AIDS.

Another style of persuasion used by the author is comparison and contrast. She describes the Inkanyezi program under St. Charles Lwanga, in terms of budgets, staff, challenges faced (Epstein, 156). It is clear that Inkanyezi faced more challenge as it endeavored to make do with what they (nurses) had. The author is invited by Justice Showalala to meet youth from Orange Farm. She uses third person technique to inform readers about people’s experiences about HIV such as prejudice, discrimination of people living with AIDS and the confusion, stigma and shame which “loveLife Y-centers did little to help young people deal with.”

The author uses generalization to show her audience the approaches used by Y-centers and Inkanyezi. This she uses to portray that Inkanyezi went to the extra mile of assisting “those who were hungry, homeless, destitute, or were suffering from symptoms of AIDS” (157) from the normal individual counseling offered by Y-centers. Narratives were also used in order to further persuade the readers to believe and accept the author’s point of view. The narratives include the tale of a girl discovering that the mother was HIV-positive and a woman whose daughter was downcast by the knowledge of her mother’s status.

The author uses a character to state her opinion and recommendation-”I think there should be more counseling and support groups for people with HIV-positive parents.” The author further uses statistics-”in Uganda, since 1992 the HIV rate had fallen by some two-thirds…”- that are presented as fact which would definitely be acceptable by the readers. According to Stoneburner and Low-Beer, “a powerful role was played by the ordinary, frank and conversational people about the frightening effects of AIDS itself. Epstein further does comparison of the different ways in which Uganda and South Africa has dealt with AIDS.

Uganda has a stronger “social cohesion” that enabled them to be open and “form trusted relationships” which reduced exploitation and humiliation. This enabled more discussions, better attitudes towards the infected and behavioral changes that worked together to combat AIDS (Epstein, 158). This was the direct opposite of South Africans who “seldom spoke about it with the people they knew” (StoneBurner and Low-Beer) even though both nations had histories of conflict.

The author gives a reasoning that people make decisions about sexuality based on feeling not calculation (Epstein, 159).

Epstein further interrogates Dr. Harrison for trying to “impose scientific principles on human choices” (160). She dismisses it as a “mad experiment” and goes further to defend her claim by showing how the children knew the complete sex education (and how they appreciated it-by even mentioning Nkosi Johnson, the brave HIV-positive boy who became famous worldwide by challenging president Thabo Mbeki at International conference on AIDS, 2002) but could not personally identify with anyone with AIDS.

Future narration of the author’s research in Rwanda complimented those from Uganda aim to solidify the facts that there could be better methods for use in South Africa. According to the interview of the Rwandan students, there was more knowledge about AIDS and they were willing to offer more help to people with AIDS. The issue of credibility is tackled by the narrator declaring “the students had no idea in advance” what she was to talk about.

In her conclusion, the author declared that “the persistent denial of AIDS in South Africa was deeply disturbing” and complete the proof by linking loveLife campaign as the obstacle. This proof is supported by termination of grant funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS after similar conclusions. Further, the failure of loveLife is stamped by findings of epidemiologists that HIV infection rates still rose steadily during the first seven years of the program (Delate,2001). The purpose of the author to show that better and more realistic HIV prevention programs were being neglected for shoddy programs.

In conclusion, it is clear that the analysis of the author’s interpretation of the loveLife campaign is complete in a manner that can offer recommendations and suggestions on how to formulate better HIV prevention programs. All the techniques of narration such as comparison, contrast, fore-telling, reasoning, rhetoric, character building and persuasion all enable the author to achieve her purpose to call for better campaigns.

Works Cited

Epstein, Helen “AIDS, Inc.” Emerging contemporary Reading for writer. Second edition. Ed. Barclay Barrios, Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. 151-163. Print


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