The purpose of this study was to examine a communication for social change project relating to AIDS/HIV awareness. The project chosen was the 'Heroes Project' in India founded by Hollywood actor Richard Gere in July 2004. This essay will observe how the organisation uses the media to achieve its goals and objectives and what sort of social change it has bought about in the Indian community. The Heroes Project has now been operating for almost four years and has forged partnerships with the STAR India Pty Ltd television network and Avahan, an Indian AIDS initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Background and ContextHIV/AIDS awareness is an important issue in the south and far north-east of India. The prevalence of the disease is debated, with UNAIDS estimating there were 5.7 million people living with HIV in India in 2005 (making it the most infected country in the world) and NACO estimating a smaller 5.2
million, putting it behind South Africa in the infection-rate. (Avert, 2007). Additionally, International AIDS charity Avert explains that "The statistics for AIDS cases may be a poor guide to the severity of the epidemic, as in many situations a patient will die without HIV having been diagnosed, and with the cause of death attributed to an opportunistic infection, such as tuberculosis." (Avert, 2007).
Either way, the infection is spreading rapidly and it is obvious that immediate action is required to reduce the devastating impact of the outbreak. As the Heroes Project's official website says, "India, with its population of over one billion people, is poised to suffer from the world's largest epidemic if timely intervention is not taken." (Heroes Project, 2006) The disease is most prevalent among sex workers and their clients, and drug users who share needles. (Kaiser Network, 2004)Project ObjectivesThe Heroes Project...