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AIDS. 1998;12 Suppl 2:S1-9.

Social marketing sexually transmitted disease and HIV prevention: a consumer-centered approach to achieving behaviour change.

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  • 1Family Health International, Arlington, Virginia, USA.


This paper proposes that international sexually transmitted disease (STD)/HIV prevention efforts might be enhanced by the application of social marketing principles. It first outlines the conceptual basis of social marketing approaches to health behaviour change generally and then explores key issues and opportunities for using these principles to improve current STD/HIV prevention efforts.


Social marketing is a research-driven, consumer-centered process used in the field of public health to change individuals' behavior. Social marketing differs from other health education strategies only in its approach, which is based upon commercial marketing techniques. In social marketing campaigns, social products such as condom use are viewed as commercial products and promoted using the same principles applied in the commercial sector. With consistent and long-term government commitment, social marketing programs have been highly effective. When used properly, social marketing-based public health interventions can help to prevent and control STDs and HIV. Health consumer behavior and focus, targeting and audience segmentation, social market research, the social marketing mix, and implications for social marketing STD/HIV prevention are discussed. Decreasing sexual partner change and making sex safe, improving access to effective STD treatment, and condom social marketing are then discussed as elements of social marketing to reduce sexual risk, followed by an examination of important policy considerations.

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