The 3rd National HIV Communication Survey (NCS), the definitive study of the effectiveness of our country's HIV communication programmes, is about to commence.
During February and March 2012, field workers will fan out across all nine provinces and survey thousands of people between the ages of 16 and 55, on their knowledge and recall of a wide variety of social and behavioural change communication programmes.
HIV social and behavioural change communication programmes are intended to spur South Africans to make healthy choices, provide them with important health information, and where necessary change their behaviours in order to avoid the risk of HIV infection.
The NCS, funded by the Department of Health, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (USAID/PEPFAR) and the Global Fund, is being driven in partnership by three of South Africa's biggest players in health behavioural change communication: Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa, Soul City and loveLife. The NCS fieldwork is being done by Freshly Ground Insights, and the survey data analysed by Health and Development Africa (HDA) in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University.
Says HDA director Dr Saul Johnson: "The NCS is a critically important tool to evaluate how effective the various communication programmes are. By identifying their strong and weak points, we are able to improve the quality and efficacy of the messages they impart to the public, and thus more effectively get citizens to protect themselves."
This is how the survey will be conducted:
*It is much like the recently-completed national census, in that field workers will ask respondents to answer the questions in a comprehensive questionnaire
*It is unlike the census in three important respects:
oAll households selected for enumeration will be chosen completely randomly and the questionnaire is completed anonymously, meaning that the confidentiality of all respondents is assured and respected
oThe respondent will not necessarily be the designated head of the household
oRespondents aged 16 or 17 will need parental assent to participate
*The interview takes about 90 minutes. No one else is permitted to sit in on the interview
*The field worker will pose a series of socio-demographic, personal and communication programme-related questions to the respondent, and record his or her responses on a PDA
The NCS results will be made public in South Africa in mid-July, and again a week later at the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC.