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"Understanding AIDS"--the national AIDS mailer.
  • Published Date:
    1991 Nov-Dec
  • Source:
    Public Health Rep. 106(6):656-662
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-1.29 MB]

  • Alternative Title:
    Public Health Rep
  • Personal Author:
  • Description:
    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of the Public Health Service made public health history in 1988 by mailing the pamphlet, "Understanding AIDS," to every household in the United States. Approximately 126 million copies were distributed, reaching at least 60 percent of the population according to several national polls. The pamphlet was produced and mailed at a cost of about 20 cents per copy. The impact of "Understanding AIDS" by itself on AIDS-related behavior was not fully assessed. Extensive message pretesting and other commercial marketing techniques to improve the effectiveness of the brochure, however, helped "Understanding AIDS" achieve an increase in awareness and concern about AIDS. A number of lessons were learned during the process. They included the importance in such an enterprise of setting a deadline, doing formative research, receiving active support from senior management, achieving a consensus on scientific knowledge, using communications experts, centralizing the final decision-making function, maximizing publicity surrounding the mailing, building a base of support among constituency groups, planning distribution logistics from the very start, and designing evaluation into the process from the beginning.

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