Social marketing innovations with community activations to market Medical Male Circumcision to target audiences

The latest 5th HSRC[1] survey reports that the annual HIV incidence in 15-49 year old is 0.79% in the population and in females is 0.93% and 0.69% in males respectively which corresponds to 199 700 people newly infected in 2017. HIV prevalence among adults aged 15 to 49 years in South Africa was reported to be 20.6%, 26.3% among females and 14.8% among males.

Five (NWP,MPU,FS,EC and KZN) out of nine provinces were reported with prevalence higher than 20% ranging from a low of 22.8% in Mpumalanga to a high of 27.0% in the Free state. Nationally, only 31.8% of males aged 15-64 years were reported being medically circumcised. 43% of males aged 15-24 years were reported medically circumcised. This study reveals a need to reach more men in this age group with more demand creation efforts to reach the 90-90-90 targets for HIV epidemic control.

JPS Africa in 2018 used the societal model for social behavior change communication with a particular focus on community wide or societal collaborations to raise awareness about men’s health and increase access to Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) services. The initiative was conceptualized and developed by the Demand Generation Director from JPS Africa. The main aim was to generate demand using community platforms and events as a gateway to increase the number of people booked for VMMC services.

Launching the Bozza Activations

The Bozza Cut was a conceptualized to accelerate demand for VMMC services for safe and pain-free VMMC in Bojanala District (NW) in the low demand season resulting in aversion of new HIV infections through the circumcision of males ages 15-49. Main objectives were : i).To conduct 10 MMC campaign  events at selected sites in Bojanala District using the MOVE model (Maximizing Volume and Efficiency for Male Circumcision) to improve clinical-related efficiencies in VMMC services. (ii).To collaborate with the Bojanala District Department of Health and other stakeholder to ensure that the JPS Africa and District targets are met.

Bozza Cut Activations targeted i) taxi ranks working with Taxi drivers ii) The ORBIT TVET campuses within Bojanala District, Northwest Province iii). Malls in the communities and iii) Health Days to ensure that young men and older men attending these events were informed about the benefits of MMC. Clients were encouraged to send a request for free services to 30 869 or send “please call me “to book / via WhatsApp to 079 255 9424. JPS Africa provided FREE MMC and other services from during the activations .These services included: FREE blood pressure check-up  to avoid non-communicable diseases, FREE measuring of weight   by trained nurses, FREE TB Screening  for all who attended the events, FREE STI screening  and FREE HIV Testing Services (HTS)  for free by experienced counsellors . The get “The Bozza Cut Summer Campaign was a roadshow that aimed to use edutainment as a form of community engagement to raise awareness about the risks of men and women acquiring HIV in the community and how it can be prevented in the community through Medical Male Circumcision. This was based in scientific evidence which shows that VMMC prevents HIV transmission to men by up to 60%. The Bozza Cut team was comprised of the JPS Africa VMMC ambassador, Clevy Sekgale who is a prominent actor from the popular SABC1 soapie called Skeem Saam where he acts as Dennis. Inclusion of Clevy in the Bozza activations made the message relatable and credible as he was also involved in drama, community and recruitment of eligible males through door- to-door outreaches in the villages. A total of 5 activations were conducted between 15th November and March 2019 resulting in 535 men being circumcised. A total of 2 500 people were reached though the activations.

By Lubwama J. Kigozi,
Demand Generation Director, JPS Africa

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