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The Public Health Campaign on STDs Among the Youth

Abstract

Sexually transmitted infections account for high numbers of deaths and infections among the youth. A safe sex campaign can be an important initiative to reduce sexually transmitted infections. This essay discusses unprotected sex among teenagers as a public health issue that promulgates the spread of STDs. A large number of sexually active youths are engaging in unsafe sex and contributing to the rates of the newly reported STD cases. However, a safe sex campaign may suffer from social stigmatization. Therefore, public health campaigners must use culturally sensitive materials and ethical approaches.

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Introduction

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) pose challenges to the global healthcare systems. According to Jemmott, Jemmott, Fong, and Morales (2010), millions of youths engage in unprotected sex because they are unaware about the devastating effects of STDs. The global statistics of STDs reveal that youths of between15 and 24 years account for the largest number of individuals that present new cases of STDs (Chinsembu, 2009). STD campaigns are vital, but often challenging. The essay examines an STD public-health campaign against unprotected sex.

Public Health Campaign

Brief Description of the Public Health Campaign on STDs among the Youth

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are the major causes of deaths and infections among youth worldwide. STDs are mainly transmitted through unsafe sex. Unprotected sex among teenagers has been a major public health issue that propagates the spread of STDs. In fact, there are increased rates of newly reported cases of STDs among the youths between 15 and 24 years. Evidence suggests that the age group is actively engaging in unsafe sex resulting in new cases of STDs infections. Chinsembu (2009) argued that millions of youths engage in unprotected sex because they are unaware about the devastating effects of STDs. The global statistics of STDs reveal that youths of between 15 and 24 years account for the largest number of individuals that present new cases of STDs (Chinsembu, 2009).

The Target Audience

The STDs campaigns will target the youths between the ages of 15 years and 24 years. The reason is the increasing cases of STDs that associate with unprotected sex among the youths within the age group. Most youths within the age bracket have been found to involve themselves in irresponsible sexual behaviors (Saewyc, Barney, Clark, & Brunanski, 2013). Youths are sexually active and often engage in numerous sexual affairs. Studies indicate that in the United States, over 6% of the high school youngsters below fifteen years engage in sexual intercourse. Besides, various studies have indicated that about 34% of the university students practice anal, vaginal, and oral sex (Jemmott et al., 2010).

The increasing number of youths with STDs is not only distressing for the national healthcare systems but also globally. Even though the youths within the targeted age bracket accounts for 25% of the sexually dynamic population, the age group represent a half of the new STDs cases with a high transmission rates of a bout 72% (Jemmott et al., 2010).

The Theory that will be Appropriate

The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) would help to promote safe sex and abstinence. According to Southey (2011), TRA urges people to streamline their actions before they could regret about the negative consequences of their planned actions. The theory believes in three important constructs, which are the behavioral intentions, the attitudes of individuals, and the normative beliefs. Personal attitudes, behavioral intentions, and normative beliefs are personal variables that often determine the health of individuals and their precautions against infections (Southey, 2011). The theory would help the campaigners to insist on reasoned actions such as the use of protection and abstinence.

The Methods used in Health Campaigns

Various approaches can be applied in health campaign ranging from the marketing techniques to community collaborations. However, the method applied in health issues must be appropriate. Maibach, Abroms and Marosits (2007) argued that a health campaign on sensitive and ethically challenging issues like safe sex practices often requires effective marketing approaches and an understanding of the public relations and principles. The most appropriate method in this public health campaign is the formation of community partnerships among the youths. In fact, the campaigners will develop culturally sensitive promotional materials and use the most ethical campaign techniques.

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The Goal for Implementing Public Health Campaign

The main aim of implementing public health campaign is to increase awareness of the health hazards related to unsafe sex behaviors. As indicated, the majority of youth are engaging in unsafe sex behaviors. The impact is the STDs transmission and infection. The campaign that aims at increasing awareness of the unsafe sex health hazards is expected to result in the behavior change among the youth.

Communication Tools

Communication and Social Media Tools Applied in the Campaigns

The old and the new media marketing tools are found to be the most appropriate in communicating the main health issue in this campaign. The initial plan of the campaign will involve attractive information that will appear on prominent social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Google+. The reason for utilizing the tools is their constant usage as a form of interaction and information sharing among the youth. In fact, youths are currently spending most of their time on the prominent social media networks that seem appealing, interactive, friendly, and cheap to operate. According to Gomm, Lincoln, Pikora, and Giles-Corti (2006), social media information will enlighten the youth and prepare them psychologically. The old media platforms including television and other broadcasting networks that operate on digital platform is also crucial in creating the STDs awareness among the youth.

The Appropriateness of the Tools for the Target Audience

As indicated, the social media platform provides increased accessibility, transfer and sharing of the intended information. Besides, the social media is the means through which large number of audience can be reached. In fact, it is in the social media that majority of youths within the target age group are present. Moreover, youths are currently spending most of their time on the prominent social media networks that seem appealing, interactive, friendly, and cheap to operate. The television and other broadcasting networks are significant in emphasizing and spreading the intended information.

Ways of Adjusting Public Health Message Depending on the Social Media Tool Used

One of the characteristics of the social media tools is the speed with which the intended information spreads. The information will spread fast when it has a greater influence on the envisioned audience. Given the limitations of wording of information to be passed in some social media tools, it is critical to consider its content and language to achieve a great effect on any anticipated interest group (Guion, Kent & Diehl, 2009). There is need to fashion the message in the light of the target audience. In other words, arranging the content of the message appropriately is important to make it compelling. There is need to consider feelings to be evoked.

The Necessity of Adjusting Public Health Messages Depending on Age, Community and Potential Literacy Levels of the Target Audience

The question of who the audience is important in making the public health campaigns successful (Guion, Kent, & Diehl, 2009). Besides, there are various approaches to ponder over when targeting diverse gatherings and the ways they can best be reached. To start with, there is the inquiry of what group(s) to concentrate on (Caldeira, Singer, O’Grady, Vincent & Arria, 2012). Individuals can be gathered depending on such characteristics as gender, ethnicity and conduct as well as education level. An important aspect to consider when targeting a specific end goal is whether to regulate correspondence to those whose conduct, knowledge or condition are to be influenced and whether communication needs to be roundabout (Parker & Thorson, 2009).

Moreover, when coining a message for a given audience, it is important to consider its content and language to achieve a great effect on any intended interest group (Guion, Kent & Diehl, 2009). As such, there is need to fashion the message in the light of the target audience. If the inclination is excessively amazing, antagonistic, or alarming, attempting to make the target audience feel excessively regretful, individuals may not pay attention to it (Samkange-Zeeb, Spallek & Zeeb, 2011).

Marketing the Public Health Campaign

A number of marketing strategies will be adopted in the implementation of the public health communication plan. The campaign will be put in place with the help of digital and electronic media. The move will involve placing advertisements on television, radio, and other media outlets. In addition, Facebook and Twitter accounts will be opened to promote the campaign. The selected marketing strategy is effective compared to other approaches, such as the use of texts. For example, digital electronics provide visual images that are appealing to the youth group (Hagglund, Shigaki & McCall, 2009). The marketing strategies adopted will focus on behavior outcomes (Storey, Saffitz & Rimon, 2008).

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Engaging Target Audience

The Target Audience

The intended interest group for this crusade includes the youth aged 16 to 25 years. Both genders and ethnic affiliations will be in the focus as they all fall within the confines of the goals of this campaign. The objective of this campaign is to cut down the spread of STDs.

Involving the Target Audience

The intended interest group will be occupied with exercises that are significant in developing an understanding on maintaining a strategic distance from health risks such as reckless sexual practices. Such programs have been found to be effective in addressing health risks (O’Leary, 2011). The programs also help youths to build good relationship with their guardians, schoolmates, and other groups under the study (Resnick & Siegel, 2013). The intended interest group will be involved using social networking whereby data about STD and avoidance measures are to be spread via media.

Promotion of Public Relations

There are various approaches to ponder over when targeting diverse gatherings and the ways they can best be reached. To start with, there is the inquiry of what group(s) to concentrate on (Clarke, Niederdeppe & Lundell, 2012). Individuals can be gathered depending on the characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, conduct, and education level. An important aspect to consider when targeting a specific end goal is whether to regulate correspondence to those whose conduct, knowledge, or condition are to be influenced, or whether communication needs to be roundabout. In order to influence a populace, there is need to point the message at the significant others, for instance, the religious leaders, group pioneers and lawmakers (Randolph & Viswanath, 2004).

Intended Behavior Change

The intention is to influence the target audience to refrain from leading reckless lifestyles of unprotected sex and having more than one sexual partner. Most of the members of the target audience find comfort in having more than one sexual partner as their peers dictate them that this demonstrates superiority. The key benefit of this behavior change is reduction in the risk of exposure to STDs. Having one sexual partner reduces the risk of contracting STDs (Glanz, Rimer & Viswanath, 2008). It is believed that the bigger the audience that gets appropriate information about STDs, the greater the chances of reduction in new infections.

Anticipated Stakeholders

The collaboration with the health officers within the region is necessary to help set up physical information centers for the target audience to access the desired information and have their questions answered. I will also engage charity organizations in the locality to sponsor the campaign. Religious leaders will be required to chip in and help spread the message against the STDs. These stakeholders will greatly help the campaign. The stakeholders will have access to and mostly interact with the target audience so they have a better understanding of how to communicate the message to the youth.

Possible Barriers

The high cost of such a campaign will come out as a major challenge. Posting ads on media, such as TV, online social networking services and radio is very expensive, yet these are some of the most effective ways for disseminating information about the campaign. Another challenge will be the attitudes of the target audience towards the campaign (Dearing, 2009). Most youths have negative attitude to the subject matter of this campaign and some shy away from talking about STDs (Roper, 2013). Such people are more prone to these diseases since they lack adequate information on how to prevent them. The barriers can be addressed by looking for sponsorship for the campaign. The sponsors will help raise money to fund the campaign.

Implementation and Evaluation

Implementation of the Public Health Campaign

A number of marketing strategies will be adopted in the implementation of the public health communication plan. The campaign will be put in place with the help of digital and electronic media. The move will involve placing advertisements on television, radio, and other media outlets. In addition, Facebook and Twitter accounts will be opened to promote the campaign. The selected marketing strategy is effective compared to other approaches, such as the use of texts. For example, digital electronics provide visual images that are appealing to the youth group (Tyden, 2011). The marketing strategies adopted will focus on behavior outcomes. The marketing strategies will establish the needs of the youth by developing a marketing mix (Romer & Juzang, 2009).

Concerning milestones and timelines, the campaign will begin by bringing together the stakeholders involved in its implementation. The messages to be communicated in the campaigns will be developed after a series of meetings between the parties involved (Sales & DiClemente, 2014). The initial stage is expected to last for 2 months. As a result, a clear campaign structure will be developed together with the creation of Facebook and Twitter accounts. The rollout of the campaign will be marked by advertisements on the media outlets selected (Barker, 2004). The advertisements will run for 3 months. Contacts will be established with the youth through a number of learning institutions. In the third month, concerts will be held in different venues. A concert will be held every month for a period of 3 months. The entire campaign will run for a period of 8 months.

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The Public Health Message

The public health message pertains to STDs among the youth. The aim is to increase awareness among this group. The audience will be informed on the importance of abstinence and practicing safe and responsible sex. Information on the various types of STDs will be provided in the campaigns (Snyder, 2007). The youth will also be encouraged to go for regular testing in health facilities (Luca & Suggs, 2013).

The public health message is justified given the fact that youth are at high risk of contracting STDs compared to other demographic groups in the society (Snyder, 2007). For example, most individuals are more sexually active at adolescent than in their other stages in life. The group is also vulnerable to peer-pressure and other negative forces in the society. All these issues increase their risk to STDs. As such, it is important to come up with a public health campaign geared towards changing their behavior (Resnick & Siegel, 2013).

Ways of Adopting the Public Health Campaign

The adoption of the campaign will be enhanced by implementing strategies that are appealing to the youth. The move will entail interacting with the group via social and mainstream media channels (Sales, Milhausen & DiClemente, 2006). The second strategy will involve coming up with groups and ‘locations’ where the youth feel they belong. The envisaged concerts and establishment of youth friendly health clinics will serve this purpose (Tzeng et al., 2013). Finally, the youth will be enrolled to help in running the campaign. As such, they will own the public health plan.

Culturally Relevant and Sensitive Materials

A set of core values will be established. The campaign will bring on board culturally competent individuals. The messages should be sensitive to the blames mounted on the youth for their vulnerability to STDs (Snyder, 2007). In order to enhance cultural relevance, the campaign will involve individuals from various ethnic and racial backgrounds. The messages communicated in the campaign should not be biased against any cultural group (Smedley, 2012).

Legal and Ethical Issues

A legal issue entails securing documentation to legalize the campaign. The issue will be dealt with by obtaining the necessary permits before the campaign begins. Another component involves the threat of subdivisions within the health fraternity. The problem can be avoided through sensitization programs (Hanan, 2008).

Evaluation

Surveys will be conducted after every 3 months. A representative sample will be used. The data will be analyzed to determine the status of the campaign (Snyder, 2007).

Promoting Social Change

The campaign will promote social change by encouraging public participation. In addition, the plan will promote democracy, fairness, and independence in decision-making. The campaign will also help medical practitioners to assess the needs of the youth. As such, they will come up with appropriate measures to promote social change (Luca & Suggs, 2013).

Conclusion

An effective communication plan should have a positive impact on the beneficiaries. Besides, it should promote social change. Regular evaluation will ensure that the envisaged campaign meets its objectives. The aim is to create awareness among the youth concerning STDs.

References

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