Image courtesy of prep4love.com
Distinguished persons (saying “ladies and gentleman” is just WAY too binary), let me tell you about how exhausting and exhilarating this conference is. We’ve been on our feet, talking to people all day, listening to presenters, and networking. It’s all about who you know, people! We’re hard at work, but to see all the wonderful work being done and connecting with other people is very exciting. I’m always looking forward to the next session and enjoy meeting so many new people.
On Sunday, I attended the afternoon sessions of the WHO PrEP Implementation meeting. There were 2 parts: international examples of PrEP awareness campaigns, and a panel of PrEP users.
The campaigns for PrEP awareness were about demand creation. This means educating about and increasing awareness of PrEP and it’s uses so that the general population and begin demanding access to the drug. We got to see the process and effectiveness of campaigns from 3 different countries: USA (Chicago), Australia (New South Wales), and Thailand (Bangkok).
What I was most surprised by was the variety not only in the 3 campaigns presented, but also the images of other campaigns they showed as their inspirations.
From Chicago, Jim Pickett presented his organization’s (AIDS Foundation Chicago) Prep4Love campaign.
Image courtesy of positivelyaware.com
The purpose of the Prep4Love campaign was to target 3 key populations: young gay black men, transgender women of color and cisgender heterosexual black women. The Chicago PrEP Working Group also wanted to focus on intimacy, pleasure, honesty and real bodies, instead of stigma or an emphasis on the disease. They found that intimacy is what motivates many PrEP users to begin using the drug; this discovery is what prompted the campaign #PrEP4Love.
The campaign includes the posters (see above), which were advertised online, in the local transit authority, and around Chicago. There is also a website (prep4love.com), a Chicago PrEP Line, and various local events where visitors can learn more about PrEP (but also have lots of fun!).
Jim and his team are measuring the success of the campaign by tracking visits to the website and attendance at PrEP events, among other things. Jim talks more about the success of the PrEP4Love campaign in this fantastic article, written for Positively Aware magazine. (Insider info: I got to sit next to Jeff Berry, the editor of Positively Aware on Tuesday!)
The Chicago campaign leaves very few access barriers. So much information is available both on the website and through the PrEP line, and the campaign is very publically visible. As a youth, I especially like that the campaign is present on public transit and online. (More insider info: we have some of their posters in our kitchen, and everyone who walks through loves them.)
Andrew Grulich, from the Kirby Institute, presented on New South Wales’ Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities (EPIC). The EPIC study had very high political support – and viewed “Ending HIV” as a deliverable, using quantitative targets in order to boost political will. Truvada was only approved for PrEP in Australia this year, and will be considered for public subsidy in July 2016. You can read more about the EPIC study on their website: epic-nswstudy.org.au
Image courtesy of epic-nswstudy.org.au
In Thailand, APCOM’s campaign was directed at MSM, and presented by Midnight Poonkasetwattana at the meeting. The campaign used videos, published on YouTube, to tell the story of young men who decided to use PrEP, and the videos have gathered an astounding number of views! Images comparing PrEP to other preventative measures such as sunscreen, a life jacket, or contraception were also circulated, which is an excellent way to reimagine and contextualize how and why people decide to use PrEP. You can read more about APCOM’s work at www.apcom.org and Midnight Poonkasetwattana, the executive director, here. Outreach continues to happen across social media, and you can keep up to date with the Test BKK Facebook page.
Dr. Nelly Mugo from the Kenya Medical Research Institute presented on the Partners PrEP study, and briefly touched on two interesting aspects of their work: in Kenya, they approach PrEP delivery from a human rights perspective while maintaining cultural sensitivity.
Image courtesy of nemj.org
Because Kenyan religious leaders have the ability to shut down a campaign, researchers began by working with the religious leaders, in order to ensure PrEP campaigns and advocacy could reach their full potential. The Partners for PrEP study also combated HIV, LGBTQ, and sex stigma by starting with serodiscordant couples as a “low hanging fruit.”
The session ended with Dr. Quarraisha Abdool Karim and the CAPRISA studies on young women in South Africa. Dr. Abdool Karim began her talk with an excellent point about how women are diverse, and a diversity of options for PrEP (just like a diversity of options for contraceptives) are necessary in order to fully serve women’s health. The data also offered insight into geographical differences; women in rural and urban areas had different product needs, desires and preferences for PrEP.
Image courtesy of caprisa.org
However, in presenting her data on adolescents, her comment about how adolescents (and the data gathered on them) are “from another planet” was less than (inter)stellar. Unless you’re a space fanatic, which I know some youth are, and I don’t want to exclude them. Live long and prosper, my friends. But in the meantime, let’s respect adolescents and the data gathered from them in studies, no matter where they’re from. Youth and adolescents are important key populations in the fight to end HIV – and the data gathered on them is important to furthering prevention and treatment efforts.
Image courtesy of treknews.net
P.S. EVEN MORE insider info:
I’m not actually drinking coffee…it’s peach and apricot juice. Kids will be kids, I guess. And if you got super excited about all the little nuggets of insider info hidden in this article, then you should follow me on Twitter to keep up real-time. I discovered Twitter during a plenary session while we were planning too…oh wait. That’s a story for tomorrow’s article. (Or you can look me up on Twitter to find out sooner! @TWKisseamstress)