Broadcast and performance

The key to this intervention Maximising the benefits of broadcast and performance interventions means extending the outcomes beyond raising awareness. Powerful imagery and narrative can be used to challenge an audience to reflect on their own attitudes, beliefs and behaviour.

What is the activity?

Information and advice about preventing HIV transmission can be delivered through a range of broadcast or performance events such as theatre and cabaret and some broadcast media such as radio or television. Carefully structured cultural productions (including those which use dance, art, music, poetry and drama) provide a multi-sensory means through which observers and participants can gain new insights into their existing experience and knowledge. Radio and the internet can be settings where paid and unpaid slots are used to inform and challenge. It is an approach which encourages people to explore their emotional responses to sexuality, HIV and risk (including anger, pleasure, happiness, sadness, indifference, fear), while also enabling people to consider the different outcomes of behavioural choices.

Strengths and limitations

Innovative and creative interventions that use a range of performance or broadcast media can create unique opportunities to encourage people to explore difficult and complex issues. The dynamic and often informal environments which such approaches help to create are likely to engage those who are not drawn to more traditional health promotion interventions (such as written information etc.).

Narratives are an important means of conveying meaning. Through the development of an empathetic response, creative cultural events can provide a powerful medium through which individuals can consider their own responses to HIV. The use of oral, visual and kinetic expression improves accessibility for those who have difficulty with spoken English. Furthermore, the use of modern and traditional African art-forms can engender an immediate sense of welcome, belonging and recognition, although targeting must be carefully considered, as regional, generational, linguistic, and religious diversity means that not all interventions will be acceptable to all African people.

Cultural exhibits and displays (such as art or music) will be limited in the scope of information they can convey, and will not be particularly responsive to the needs of individuals. They are best used to express simple ideas. Talking advertisements on radio, or well-promoted dramatic performances and video documentaries can be a very direct means of sharing new information, promoting a service, or challenging thinking about a topic.

Where does it happen?

Broadcasts and performances may be devised as events in their own right, or they can comprise one element of a larger public gathering, display or tranmission. Examples include:

  • Generic community events such as independence day celebrations, religious occasions, World AIDS Day events, health fairs, National HIV Testing Week.
  • Specially convened community events such as art, poetry, dance or music competitions.
  • Broadcasts on African-targeted radio and television stations or programmes, either as a dramatic series, musical form, as a talk show, or as paid advertisements.
  • Visual broadcasts of video and documentary interventions can occur on African-targeted websites, on video-screens in community businesses, or on community focussed television stations. They can also be posted on video sharing websites such as facebook, YouTube etc.

Frequently delivered alongside ...

Issues to consider

Creative cultural interventions have the capacity to go beyond raising HIV awareness, both in terms of the response of the individual and the wider communities they exist within. Where the intention is to reduce HIV prevention need, then planning must incorporate elements that aim to increase participants’ knowledge, will and / or power to prevent HIV transmission. Effective interventions will require health promotion expertise and artistic and broadcast input. Often, this will require collaboration between these diverse and contrasting disciplines.


The outcomes from this intervention are primarily information-based, but can also include attitude change. The list below offers some examples of possible outcomes among people exposed to targeted cultural programming but is not exhaustive:

  • Knowing HIV exists and understanding of the harm it can cause (see associated needs).
  • Understanding the benefits of knowing their own HIV status (see associated needs here and here).
  • Increased requests for (and uptake of) STI screening (see associated needs).
  • Possessing increased confidence and motivation to openly discuss sex and sexuality, as modelled by the provider of a face-to-face intervention (see associated needs here, here and here).
  • Increased desire to contribute to the health and well being of their community (see associated needs here and here).
  • Feeling that their cultural, religious, tribal and ethnic attributes and values are recognised as being part of the rich mosaic of pan-Africanism in the UK (see the Identity section).

Monitoring and evaluation

In the development stage peer review and pre-testing of the proposed programmes’ form and content is important to ensure that the aim and the content are unified, that the essential information is clear, and that the design ideas are acceptable and attractive to viewers and listeners. Follow-up questionnaires, or end-user focus groups can be used to assess if the aims were met among those exposed to the intervention.

Page last updated: 16 June 2014

Case study

Promotion video:  rapid HIV testing

Leicestershire AIDS Support Services

LASS wanted their rapid HIV testing service to have a visible presence, so with the help of their volunteers, they created a simple video advert to promote HIV testing, without many words but with a high visual impact. The message is: It is better to know my HIV status – now I can move on. Currently available on the LASS website, youtube, and on the Baseline magazine website, the video is also used in training sessions and at events, and has received a very positive response. Celia Fisher from LASS says: “People like it and find it powerful. It helps our action teams to promote HIV testing.” 

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Case study

African Voices and Languages Podcasts

Yorkshire Mesmac

To contribute to reducing the time between HIV infection and diagnosis among African people, Yorkshire MESMAC have produced a series of short podcasts on HIV issues. The podcasts are available in six languages, including English, French, Swahili, Shona, Luganda and Yoruba. They cover essential information such as: what is HIV; how HIV is transmitted; getting tested for HIV; being positive and visiting the clinic; and HIV and medication. Podcasts are directly accessible here and it is possible to download them free from iTunes.

Case study

Talk and Test radio spots


NAHIP’s Talk and Test campaign promoted HIV testing among African people while making direct reference for support to the Do it Right website and the African AIDS Helpline. Small media (cards) were supplemented by a 30 second radio spot in a drama format which was broadcast for a period of 20 days on Choice and Galaxy FM commercial radio stations. The choice of these radio channels was informed by listeners’ data provided by Global media and verified by Ofcom. Uptake of card distribution rose significantly following the radio advertising, as did new visits to the Do it Right website.

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