Creating and Adapting HIV Messages and Information for Ghana

October 9th, 2020 | Story

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Through its work with health facilities, communities, and civil society organizations, the USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum project in January 2020 identified a gap in limited-literacy materials on HIV in Ghana’s Western Region. The project, in collaboration with the Western Regional Directorate (WRD) of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), decided to fill this gap by developing targeted materials for several key audiences: people recently diagnosed with HIV; people living with HIV (PLHIV) and currently in care; people at risk for HIV; health care providers; and pregnant women, including those living with HIV. The materials are intended to support education, advocacy, and case finding; scale-up index testing; and linkage to treatment.

The process began with an inventory of existing materials, which included reviewing, selecting a theme, and considering adaptability. The Care Continuum and the WRD/GHS team drafted content and turned it into user-friendly formats such as postcards and posters, which they pre-tested in the region. The pre-test included interviews with HIV experts, and focus group discussions with PLHIV, female sex workers, men (including those who have sex with men), adolescent girls and young women, HIV case managers, and peer educators. The pre-test was followed by reviews by the Ghana AIDS Commission’s (GAC) national communications technical working group, and GHS Health Promotion Division’s social and behavior change communication technical committee.

Figure 1: Process for the development of HIV literacy materials

Figure 1: Process for the development of HIV literacy materials

The Care Continuum, GHS, and GAC produced eight postcards, three factsheets, seven posters, 12 stickers, and 14 videos, all based on the related messages—get in care, stay in care, and live well. The materials are in English, and two of the videos are also in Twi.

The GAC endorsed the materials in May. In its approval letter, the commission stated: “The materials are well-structured, simple, and thorough, and will go a long way in improving the understanding and knowledge of the targeted audience for a better response.”

The materials are circulating and being well-received. Naomi, who lives with HIV, said “I like the postcards, particularly the one on healthy living. It explains that those of us living with HIV have hope—it makes my day. Also, the sticker that says testing positive for HIV is not the end is deeply encouraging. I also enjoy the postcard and sticker that indicate that those of us living with HIV can live life to the fullest.”

Paul, who is 25 years old and recently tested positive for HIV, appreciated the detailed information. “The materials…answer most of the questions I had on HIV and AIDS. The questions at the back of the postcards are powerful.”

Abena, who is pregnant, agreed. “The factsheet on pregnancy and HIV provides great information. It is very useful for me and I recommend it to all pregnant women—and also to our husbands. They need to know the content and support us.”

That target audiences appreciate the materials is thanks to stakeholders at all levels that helped develop them. The USAID Care Continuum project, GHS, GAC, and partners are monitoring the response to the materials and believe they will continue to benefit general and key populations and help control the HIV epidemic.

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