TalkAIDS: Addressing stigma in Chinese communities

TalkAIDS was an anti-stigma campaign funded by the Academy for Educational Development's HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigma Initiative. Using formative research from our One Mind Opened campaign, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center developed a newer harder hitting campaign model. The approach was similar to One Mind Opened, but differed in two very important ways. First, the campaign was national in scope, and secondly, we partnered with Boston's MAP for Health to measure stigma in through a pre- and post-campaign street-intercept surveys. The main objectives of the campaign were to measure the campaign's reach into the community, to test if levels of communication about HIV/AIDS increased because of the campaign, and whether campaigns such as TalkAIDS are influential in encouraging increased communication.

TalkAIDS: The Campaign

The data collected during our 2004-2005 campaign, One Mind Opened, revealed that there are high levels of stigma that exist in the Chinese community. For certain survey responses, the results were inconclusive; however, four particular questions revealed stigmatizing attitudes among respondents that showed more work needed to be done in the Chinese community:

Table 1: Data from One Mind Opened Campaign

Question Total Percent: Agree + Strongly Agree
I don't want to talk or interact with anyone with HIV/AIDS. 50.5%
I believe that people with HIV/AIDS should not be allowed to work in public school. 47.5%
I believe that people with HIV/AIDS should not be allowed to handle food in restaurants. 60.5%
I believe that people with HIV/AIDS should not be allowed to work with patients in hospitals. 61.4%

Using these findings, as well as data from our Banyan Tree Project campaigns, we knew that doing social marketing campaigns do have an effect in decreasing stigmatizing attitudes. In light of this, A&PI Wellness Center developed TalkAIDS. TalkAIDS is a shortened version of the Chinese phrase tan ai zi; qing shin shi (tan ai zi; qing shin shi), meaning "talk about AIDS and talk from the heart about what is important." The development of the campaign was contingent on the participation of an advisory committee made up of staff, clients and community members. Their influence helped to balance the message of the campaign while ensuring cultural appropriateness.

To deliver the message of the campaign, A&PI Wellness Center sought out the support of someone influential and well-known in the Chinese community. Actress and director Joan Chen was kind enough to donate her time by filming a public service announcement (PSA) in both English and Chinese. She says, "Think AIDS doesn't have a voice? Well this epidemic does, and often it is silent. Now is the time to talk to your family and friends about AIDS. I'm going to talk to somebody about AIDS. How about you?"

English version

Chinese version

Before the PSA ran, we completed street-intercept surveys in both San Francisco and Boston. The survey instrument asked a series of demographic and questions regarding attitudes toward HIV/AIDS. Between the two cities, 233 surveys were collected to provide a baseline. Incentives were given to survey participants.

Once the initial data was collected, the PSA was shown locally in the Boston and San Francisco areas, and we partnered with Cable Positive to show the PSA nationwide through a consortium of cable networks. In San Francisco, we partnered with the two major Chinese television stations as well as placing ads in two major Chinese newspapers. In Boston, the PSA was aired in the same manner, and additional ads were placed in a traditional Chinese paper, but also a bilingual paper which reaches a younger demographic, and on the internet.

After the campaign was completed, 687 street-intercept surveys were gathered to assess any changes in attitude and to measure increased discussion of HIV in the Chinese community. A&PI Wellness Center worked with the Cesar E. Chavez Institute to analyze the data collected.

The amount of people reached by the campaign was higher than anticipated. In San Francisco, 24.2% of respondents recalled seeing the campaign. In Boston, the amount of people who recalled the campaign was almost double, with 41% of those surveyed recalling the campaign.

Table 2: TalkAIDS Campaign Recall, San Francisco and Boston

Recall (unaided & aided) San Francisco Boston Total
Recall 24.2%83 41.0%14132.6%224
No Recall 75.8%260 59.0%20367.4%463
Total 100%343 100%344100%687

When measuring for increases in communication about HIV/AIDS, both cities showed an increase. In San Francisco, the number of people who talked directly about HIV/AIDS increased from 12% to 17%. In Boston, where recall was higher, that number jumped from 8% to 20%. Not surprisingly, the increase was mostly due to people who saw the campaign. In San Francisco, 24% of respondents who recalled the campaign talked to someone about HIV/AIDS in the prior month, and in Boston, 28% of those who saw the campaign talked to someone about HIV/AIDS.

Table 3: Communication About HIV/AIDS, San Francisco

In the past month, have you talked to anyone directly about HIV/AIDS (in person or via phone)? No Recall Recall Total
Yes 15.0%39 24.1%2017.2%59
No 84.6%220 75.9%6382.5%283
No Answer .4%1 .0%0.3%1
Total 100%260 100%83100%343

Table 4: Communication About HIV/AIDS, Boston

In the past month, have you talked to anyone directly about HIV/AIDS (in person or via phone)? No Recall Recall Total
Yes 15.3%31 27.7%3920.3%70
No 76.4%155 70.2%9973.8%254
No Answer 8.4%17 2.1%35.8%20
Total 100%203 100%141100%344

We wondered if a campaign using someone like Joan Chen was influential in "encouraging them to communicate directly with someone about HIV/AIDS." In both San Francisco, over six out of ten who recalled the public service announcement or newspaper ad said it was either "very influential" or "influential." In Boston, where recall was much higher, almost eight out of ten felt the campaign was "influential" or "very influential."

Table 5: Influence of TalkAIDS on Communication, San Francisco and Boston

In your opinion, how influential was the TALK AIDS Public Service Announcement in encouraging you to communicate directly with someone else about HIV/AIDS? San Francisco Boston Total
Very influential 21.3%16 30.1%4026.9%56
Influential 44.0%33 48.9%6547.1%98
Not influential 17.3%13 13.5%1814.9%31
Not influential at all 5.3%4 .0%01.9%4
No answer 12.0%9 7.5%109.1%19
Total 100%75 100%133100%208

More information

If you would like to read more about the TalkAIDS campaign, please check out some of the related documents we have available as PDFs in the navigation bar to the right.

Want to develop an anti-stigma campaign in your community?

We can help with that! Our capacity building assistance (CBA) program can help tailor our anti-stigma campaign to meet your unique challenges. We can help you with program design, event planning and media relations to get your message out. Please visit our CBA page to find out more information and to place your request or contact Bhupendra Sheoran at (415) 292-3400 x 365 or at

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