HIV infection is spreading rapidly among young people in India. With more than 30 percent of new infections in 2006 in the 15–29-year age group, the need to address the vulnerability of this population subgroup is pressing. Existing literature shows that young men subscribe to norms of masculinity that lead to risky behavior patterns. Misinformation about HIV coupled with a low perception of risk to themselves make young men even more vulnerable. To bring about social and attitude change in the long-term, communication strategies that are evidence-based, culturally appropriate, and designed in consultation with target audiences are needed. The Population Council undertook a participatory communications project to create comic books on HIV prevention for young men in India’s urban slums. Four comics were designed presenting a "real man" as one who is caring, supportive, and responsible. As noted in this brief, the comics were published in four languages (Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, and English), and as of March 2007, about 250,000 comics have been distributed in four cities.
Nidadavolu, Vijaya, Leena Joshi, Vinita Nathani, Atanu Ghosh, and Isidore Phillips. 2007. "Voices from the street: Comics for young men on masculinity, sexuality and HIV—An evidence-based communication initiative," Research update. New Delhi: Population Council.