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Preventing HIV through technology and social media

HIM pilot program a success

A local study published in the AIDS journal estimates that between 25 and 75 new HIV infections were avoided as a result of a pilot program aimed at gay and bisexual men.

The program featured a collaboration combining new testing technologies used by the BC Centre for Disease Control with community-driven social marketing developed by the Health Initiative for Men (HIM).

The campaigns — What Are You Waiting For? and Hottest at the Start — were promoted online, in print and at venues gay men frequent. The study concluded that the combination of pooled NAAT (a new testing technology) and social-marketing campaigns was found to be highly effective in almost doubling the rate of acute HIV detection in the six participating clinics.

In total, 25 men with acute HIV — who would have otherwise received a negative result — were diagnosed by pooled NAAT. These 25 men were diagnosed sooner, reducing the risk of their passing on the virus.

HIM is well known for its attention-grabbing communications. The Vancouver-based gay men’s health organization uses current evidence when developing its social-marketing campaigns. Previous evaluations have shown that gay men recognize and trust the HIM brand.

HIM’s Do the Math campaign was recognized by 48 percent of the more-than 900 men who responded to a 2011 survey. Of those who recalled that campaign, 82 percent thought about their own HIV risk, and 58 percent learned new HIV risk-reduction ideas.

For more information on the Acute HIV Study, visit acutehivstudy.com or check HIM out at checkhimout.ca.

Increased rates of HIV testing among gay men
Studies have shown that more than half of gay men in Vancouver tested for HIV in the last year. 

Many of them were tested at the HIM Health Centres, where competent, understanding nurses have administered more than 17,000 tests since HIM opened its doors four years ago. Demand continues to grow at both the Davie Street and Commercial Drive locations.

For more information on HIM, visit checkhimout.ca.

To support HIM, go to checkhimout.ca/donate.