First Safe Sex and Health Promotion Campaign for Young People in the Republic of Kazakhstan
Donor: European Union
Implemented by: AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW)
Partners: Republican Peer-to-Peer Association, Almaty City Akimat.
Duration: July – December 2007
'Live Safely, Live Fashionably!' - Informational leaflet (pdf, 592KB, 2007)
Billboard (jpeg, 309KB, 2007)
On 5th July 2007, AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW) launched the first safe campaign to promote safe sex and good health among young people in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The campaign ran under the slogan ‘Live Fashionably, Live Safely!’ and it attempted to grab the attention of young people by tuning into their desire to be fashionable, stylish and attractive. In particular, the campaign sent out the message that condoms are a fashion and health essential for any sexually active young person. The central aim of the campaign was to convince young people to practice safe sex by talking to them in their own language and inspire a positive emotional connection to condom use. At the same time, the campaign publicised the services of ‘youth friendly’ clinics in Almaty.
This initiative was launched following research into the sexual behaviour of young people in the city of Almaty, which revealed clear gaps in this group’s knowledge of the risks of unprotected sex and a lack of accurate and easily accessible information sources on sexual health. The following tendencies were remarked by the research team:
- Young people in the age group 15-29 years, and particularly girls aged 15-19, were at the highest risk of HIV;
- On average, the age of first sexual contact was falling;
- Many young people found it difficult to talk to their partners and friends about safer sex and were embarrassed to buy condoms;
- A fatalistic attitude towards risk was noted (‘If I’m fated to become infected, I will do. A condom won’t help’) as well as common myths about HIV transmission routes;
- Young people received around 90% of their information about HIV from the mass media, and not from doctors, friends or family members.
From July – December 2007, AFEW ran short films and radio clips in the media, ran billboard and poster campaigns on public transport and distributed informational leaflets in educational institutions, pharmacies, medical centres and at public events.
In January 2008, the Centre for Public Opinion Research in Kazakhstan conducted an evaluation of the impact of the mass media campaign on attitudes and knowledge of safe sexual behaviour among young people (aged 15-24 years) living in Almaty.
Over 60% of young people who said that they had seen a safe sex campaign in the last 6 months could accurately recall the characters, situations and message of AFEW’s campaign.
Two-thirds of respondents said that they found the campaign attractive and likeable and the overwhelming majority found the information readable and clear.
Lessons learned from the campaign included: a need for more direct language about condom use and safe sex in campaign materials, better distribution of informational brochures in public places and a need to conduct safe sex initiatives not only in higher education institutions but also in schools.
The major finding of the surveys was that there was a very high demand for further informational campaigns about safer sex among young people in Almaty. Altogether, 85% of respondents said that they would like to see more of these campaigns.