Health Promotion International vol:29 issue:4 pages:739-50
Despite the widespread utilization of the mass media in HIV/AIDS prevention, little is known about the knowledge gap that results from disparities in mass media use. This study examined the relationship between HIV/AIDS-related mass media use and HIV/AIDS-related knowledge among urban and rural residents of northwestern Ethiopia. A hierarchical regression analysis indicated that HIV/AIDS-related mass media use has both sequestering and mainstreaming effects in certain segments of the study population, although it was not a significant predictor of HIV/AIDS-related knowledge in the total population. The knowledge gaps between individuals with high and low education and between individuals who experience high and low levels of interpersonal communication about HIV/AIDS narrowed as HIV/AIDS-related media use increased, but the gap between urban and rural residents widened. The widening gap could be explained by differences in perceptions of information salience and several theoretical assumptions. Current mass media information campaigns, which are often prepared and broadcast from urban centers, may not only fail to improve the HIV/AIDS knowledge of the rural populace but also put rural populations at a disadvantage relative to their urban counterparts. Communication interventions informed by socioecological models might be helpful to redress and/or narrow the widening knowledge gap between urban and rural residents.