Young MSM who saw PrEP4Love ads were nearly 3 times as likely to have spoken with a care provider about PrEP than those unaware of the campaign.
As pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) awareness has grown in recent years, uptake continues to remain low in certain populations that are at an increased risk for HIV exposure and acquisition.
One group, in particular, includes ideal candidates for PrEP but has relatively low uptake—young men who have sex with men (YMSM). This lack of PrEP use could be linked to a lack of conversations among YMSM and their health care providers about sexual health and PrEP.
As a result, health officials in Chicago, Illinois, joined some other major cities in launching a multimedia campaign to empower YMSM to be proactive and introduce the idea of beginning a PrEP regimen to their health care providers.
Conclusions collected from a survey of YMSM in Chicago were presented recently in a poster session at the Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2019).
The PrEP4Love campaign launched in 2016 as a city-wide campaign depicting racially diverse couples and sex-positive messages, linking interested individuals to more information about PrEP regimens, including a list of providers across the state. The campaign images were posted across the city in forms ranging from ads at bus stops to coasters at bars to public fliers.
As part of the RADAR study, which is a longitudinal cohort study investigating factors linked with HIV infection in Chicago, participants responded to a core survey. The participants, all of whom reported being assigned male at birth, were between the ages of 16 and 29 years, and identified as LGBT or reported sex with another man, responded to additional questions about the PrEP4Love campaign in the core survey between June 2017 and April 2018.
Survey results indicate that 75.9% of the 700 people who responded to the questions had seen the ads in at least 1 location. Most participants reported seeing the ads online (57.8%), while 50.7% reported seeing the ads at pride events. An additional 35% reported receiving the ad from a friend and 32% saw the ad at a health care provider’s office.
Moreover, participants who saw PrEP4Love ads were found to be significantly more likely to have used PrEP in the 6 months prior to completing the survey (odds ratio = 1.87; 95% confidence interval: 1.15, 3.16). Additionally, those who saw PrEP4Love ads were nearly 3 times more likely to have spoken with a care provider than those unaware of the campaign (OR = 2.77; 95% CI: 1.93, 4.00), and twice as likely to have initiated a conversation about PrEP (OR = 2.07; 95% CI: 1.15, 3.85).
The investigators of the study concluded that these favorable results indicate that a multimedia PrEP campaign in Chicago was effective at reaching the intended population. Furthermore, it was proven that the ads directly resulted in the initiation of patient-provider conversations about PrEP, as well as implementation of a PrEP regimen among YMSM.
“Although the impact of citywide campaigns can rarely be evaluated, we saw evidence for the success of PrEP4Love,” the investigators write. “To encourage PrEP uptake among at-risk populations, other jurisdictions need eye-catching and continuous campaigns similar to Chicago.”
The study, “Influence of PrEP4Love Campaign Uptake Among YMSM in Chicago,” was presented at CROI 2019 in Seattle, Washington.