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“Break the Silence” in Tanzania

New Campaign from the CHAMPION Project

A CHAMPION advertisement in Swahili.  In English, it says (clockwise from the left): Would you be able to eat this [chicken] as is? Relationships are like food, they require preparation. Break the silence. Communicate or discuss (issues) with your partner.

EngenderHealth’s CHAMPION Project in Tanzania recently kicked off a “Break the Silence” campaign. Aimed at helping achieve CHAMPION’s goal of increasing men’s involvement in preventing the spread of HIV, the “Break the Silence” media campaign is designed to provoke and promote a national dialogue about gender roles.

The campaign is also about breaking the silence between couples, according to Dr. Ben Ngoye, the project’s Director for Communications, Community Mobilization, and Workplace. While doing research on the reasons why HIV is still prevalent in Tanzania, Ngoye and his team learned that there is a widespread lack of communication and dialogue among couples. “We found out people just don’t talk,” he said.

This lack of communication often leads couples to seek other partners outside their relationship, increasing the risk of HIV for all involved. In teaching couples how to be more open in communicating about health, sex, financial issues, and other matters, the goal is to positively impact their health and well-being.   

“Break the Silence” (or “Vunja Ukimya” in Kiswahili) has already begun with print, radio, and TV ads. Television commercials related to the campaign are scheduled to run during the World Cup this month and are expected to reach a huge target audience. Town hall–style meetings led by CHAMPION action teams are also in the works, to stimulate discussion around this important issue.

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