Targeting gay men in the inner Melbourne region, the Drama Downunder campaign was designed to (1) increase access to diagnosis, treatment, and care of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), (2) improve HIV/STI awareness and knowledge, and (3) minimize the transmission and morbidity of STIs in gay and other homosexually active men. Initial research revealed that the target audience saw messaging delivered through “traditional” gay media as “old news”, and that while this audience was well informed on HIV prevention, they had less knowledge of STIs more generally. Because of this, the campaign team decided to launch Drama Downunder using both mainstream and gay media channels, including print and radio ads, outdoor advertising, and ads on gay dating sites. Campaign materials featured a male model wearing underpants in various states of distress, from normal looking underpants to underpants on fire. These attention-grabbing images were meant to represent a range of STI symptoms in a light-hearted and humorous way. Campaign specific events such as the Drama Down Under-wear fashion show were held to encourage community engagement, and items including underwear, fridge magnets, and drink holders were given out to members of the target audience, referring them to the Drama Downunder website. On the website, individuals could find information on sexually transmitted infections and where to go for treatment, as well as utilize an online reminder system and an anonymous notification system to alert sexual partners of a positive STI or HIV test. To evaluate the impact of the campaign’s efforts, an online cohort of gay men was established and surveyed every three to six months. In total, 295 gay men (aged 18-66) recruited through gay community venues, gay events, and referrals from friends completed these online surveys. Campaign evaluation also included usage statistics on the campaign website and Facebook page and clinic testing data. Of those aware of the campaign, 62% reported an STI test in the past six months, compared with 44% of men unaware of the campaign. An increase in the monthly number of tests run at clinics was reported – 27% for HIV tests, 30% for syphilis tests, and 29% for chlamydia tests, and while STI testing rates had increased prior to the campaign, Poisson regression demonstrated accelerated rates of increased testing during the campaign period.
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