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Published on 22 November 2023 | Yael Azgad

Be in the KNOW’s five-part video series on sexual health basics for young people in sub-Saharan Africa proudly puts sexual pleasure at the centre. The videos have been co-created with 16 to 24 year olds from across South Africa and Uganda to help young people explore and understand their sexual health in ways that feel relatable and real. And that means showing the exciting, steamy, sometimes silly, realities of sex.

We take this approach because we know it works. Pleasure is one of the main reasons people have sex. It makes sense to not only acknowledge this but to celebrate it, linking sexual pleasure with safer sex practices to ensure messages land. This is far more effective than focusing on danger, death and disease which generally turns people off, not on.

As well as Zuzu and her guy Maani, our new series features PBae and Inno feeling freaked out and excited about first-time sex nerves or lazing in bed chatting about what consent is, why it matters and how it can be sexy. We see Amara and Abi getting turned on by the thought of stress-free sex after opening up a sweetie-box full of coloured and textured condoms, while Zuzu, Ibra and Amara chill at the beach discussing outfits that slay, hot guys who refuse to wear condoms, and the merits of PrEP.

The reception to these taboo-busting videos has been incredible. The series reached over 2.16 million people on launch, gaining 1 million engagements across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and over 130,670 engaged video views (when more than half the video is watched). Launch alone generated over 68,000 click-throughs to the Be in the KNOW website where young people can learn more about sex, relationships and sexual and reproductive health.

The videos work because they reflect how young people in sub-Saharan Africa talk and act.

The videos work because they reflect how young people in sub-Saharan Africa talk and act. They make people smile too, whether it’s at Maani getting out his funk-town playlist to put Zuzu in the mood, or PBae and Inno imagining sex as a major league sport as they nervously discuss performance anxiety.

The videos don’t talk down to young people – rather they look them straight in the eye and say ‘we see you, we know what things are like for you, and here is what you need to be in the know about’. This is because the videos were co-created by the very people they are aimed at. We held online discussions with groups of young people to understand how they talk about sex, relationships and sexual health. Then we got detailed feedback on the video scripts to ensure the language, messaging and storylines genuinely connect with our audiences.

Seeing comments on our socials like “I always rush here to watch your videos while nodding my head, saying ahan ahan...” feels so encouraging because we know the videos are hitting the proverbial g-spot, delivering sex-positive, pleasure-focused sexual health information exactly as they are designed to do. And at Avert, there’s nothing we find more satisfying than that.