In one of the biggest demonstrations seen in Swaziland in years, 1,000 hiv-positive people marched to the offices of the prime minister and the national aids council to protest a new media campaign. The project by Swaziland's National Emergency Response Council on hiv/aids seems to suggest that hiv is caused by sexual infidelity. It was launched in June 2006, without consulting people living with the virus. "The campaign further stigmatises the hiv infected," said Vusi Matsebula, chairperson of the Swaziland National Network of People Living with hiv/aids.
The media campaign, called "Makhwapheni", Siswati slang for illicit lovers, has sent thousands of cellphone text messages mimicking secret lovers arranging a sexual rendezvous. The marketing company behind the initiative says its critics failed to understand the campaign's creative rationale. They claimed that they were only tapping the popularity of cellphones. But to Swaziland's growing number of hiv and aids infected -- over 40 per cent of the sexually active -- the campaign smacked of cheap sensationalism.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.