Future Beats

Future Beats

Youth Development and HIV Prevention through Radio & Social Media

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About the Programme

“Future Beats” is a Youth Development and HIV Prevention programme implemented and funded by the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS Programme (HEAIDS) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The aim of the HEAIDS Future Beats project is to establish radio and social media programmes at campus and youth community radio stations in South Africa that create greater awareness concerning HIV and AIDS and social justice issues in South Africa., e.g. human rights, social transformation, poverty, youth unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, women empowerment and Gender Based Violence. The cutting-edge design of the project is based on the concept that when it comes to communication “one size does not fit all”. Social behaviour change communication messages are tailored to the different target communities in South Africa’s higher education sector, taking into consideration various demographics, languages and unique social problems students in the country face.


While previous national social behaviour change communication programmes in South Africa were developed with one message that was shared across all communities, the Future Beats programme seeks to empower campus and community radio managers and volunteer journalists to produce unique and innovative radio and social media content that allows for meaningful peer-to-peer communication and engages listeners in discussions around HIV and social drivers of the pandemic without feeling “HIV fatigued”. Young radio journalists, presenters and managers become agents of social change in their own student communities. The dialogue about topics raised in the radio programmes continue on the social media sites that form part of the project. An experienced Project Officer that supports the stations in implementing HIV programmes closely supervises the radio stations participating in the project.  

Future Beats ultimately aims to inculcate a health-seeking culture amongst the students at South Africa’s public universities and TVET colleges, motivating the youth to know their HIV status and take care of their health holistically. Future Beats therefore also interlinks with the HEAIDS First Things First HIV Testing and General Health and Wellness Programme, as well as the HEAIDS Women Health and Men Health Programme. Believing that gender roles and norms in the country can only be changed through including men and women, the programme also addresses current social issues such as Gender Based Violence through women empowerment, as well as awareness programmes targeted at young men.

HEAIDS successfully started Future Beats through a pilot project in 2014, working with seven radio stations in three provinces of South Africa, reaching approximately 270,000 young student listeners. The pilot showed first results of an increased awareness around HIV of all radio staff involved in the project, as well as an increase in HIV knowledge of radio listeners and an increase of HIV testing. The Future Beats programme received a mention as a best practice programme at the eighth SA AIDS Conference in 2017 and has since expanded.

HEAIDS currently implements Future Beats in partnership with 11 radio stations in six provinces of South Africa, reaching an estimated number of 670,000 young radio listeners.

The following 11 campus and community radio stations are currently part of the Future Beats programme:

  • Alfred Nzo Community Radio, Mount Ayliff
  • Barberton Community Radio, Barberton
  • CUT FM (Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein)
  • Emalahleni FM, Witbank
  • Forte FM (University of Fort Hare, Alice)
  • Kovsie FM (University of the Free State, Bloemfontein)
  • Madibaz Radio (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth)
  • Radio DUT (Durban University of Technology, Durban)
  • Rhodes Music Radio (Rhodes University, Grahamstown)
  • Voice of Wits FM (Wits University, Johannesburg)
  • UNISA Radio (University of South Africa)

As part of the programme monitoring and evaluation, the Future Beats research report, “Evaluating the impact of the HEAIDS Future Beats Programme on student radio listeners” has validated the project design. It has shown results of an increased awareness around HIV in all radio staff involved in the project, as well as an increase in HIV knowledge of radio listeners and a marked improvement in the uptake of health services by radio listeners with 18 percent of them indicating to have taken up contraception after being exposed to the radio programmes.

HEAIDS Future Beats Partners

HEAIDS would like to thank and acknowledge all volunteers at the Future Beats campus and community radio stations that support the project and produce weekly programmes on HIV and social drivers of the pandemic.

We would also like to thank our partners: All HIV units that form part of this project, GIZ, HIVSA, Wits Radio Academy and Drama for Life.  

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