Picking the Battles in the Context of a Health Promotion Program – Virus Example

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"Picking the Battles in the Context of a Health Promotion Program" is an outstanding example of a paper on the virus. In the context of a health promotion program, “ picking your battles” means to select a specific issue of importance and focus on the area which needs the most attention instead of trying to deal with too many things at the same time. This is a very important aspect of health promotion practice and needs to be done wisely as the resources in terms of personnel and funding are often very limited.

Trying to fight the battle at many fronts will exhaust the limited resources quickly and does not guarantee an effective resolution to the problem at hand. It is also harder to handle the strategic decision making and day to day operations on all these fronts. Therefore it is better to prioritize and make a concerted effort to resolve the most important issue before proceeding to the next. To understand this better, let us consider an example. India is a developing country where HIV has been spreading rapidly. It is estimated that nearly 2.47 million people in the country are living with HIV (National AIDS Control Organization, 2006).

Nearly 88% of these people are sexually active and are between the age of 15 and 49 years (National AIDS Control Organization, 2006). Although the overall rate of infection in India has been very low, certain regions and certain population groups within the country have an extremely high rate of infection. For example, the infection rate is extremely high in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka and the far north-east states of Manipur and Nagaland.

Together these states account for 64% of the HIV burden in India (National AIDS Control Organization, 2006). Again, HIV prevalence is extremely high among sex workers, injecting drug users and homosexuals in the country. These vulnerable groups also face stigma and discrimination making it extremely difficult for them to access healthcare. In this situation, ‘ picking the battle’ would involve targeting these high-risk groups and creating specific programs to reduce the infection rate among them. To this extent, public health practitioners have developed a best practice model that involves training sex workers and homosexuals about sexually transmitted diseases so that they can educate their peers about the importance of having safe sex (UNAIDS, 2005).

This program, when implemented in the city of Kolkata in India, was able to bring down the prevalence rate of HIV among sex workers from 11% in 2001 to less than 4% in 2004 (UNAIDS, 2005). ‘ Picking the battle’ however does not imply that the authorities should ignore the need of those affected by HIV in other regions of the country. However, focusing on the vulnerable groups first will have a greater impact on resolving this issue in the country.


National AIDS Control Organization. (2006). Technical Report: India HIV Estimates 2006.

National Institute of Medical Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.nacoonline.org/upload/NACO%20PDF/Technical%20Report%20on%20HIV%20Estimation%202006.pdf

UNAIDS. (2005). AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2005. Joint United National Program on

HIV/AIDS. Retrieved from http://www.unaids.org/epi/2005/

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