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The Impact of a Social Marketing Campaign on HIV and Sexually Transmissible Infection Testing Among Men Who Have Sex With Men in Australia.

Wilkinson AL, Pedrana AE, El-Hayek C, Vella AM, Asselin J, Batrouney C, Fairley CK, Read TR, Hellard M, Stoové M

  • Journal Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Published 13 Dec 2016

  • Volume 43

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 49-56

  • DOI 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000380


In response to increasing HIV and other sexually transmissible infection (HIV/STI) notifications in Australia, a social marketing campaign Drama Downunder (DDU) was launched in 2008 to promote HIV/STI testing among men who have sex with men (MSM). We analyzed prospective data from (1) an online cohort of MSM and (2) clinic-level HIV/STI testing to evaluate the impact of DDU on HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia testing.

(1) Cohort participants who completed 3 surveys (2010-2014) contributed to a Poisson regression model examining predictors of recent HIV testing.(2) HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia tests among MSM attending high caseload primary care clinics (2007-2013) were included in an interrupted time series analysis.

(1) Although campaign awareness was high among 242 MSM completing 726 prospective surveys, campaign recall was not associated with self-reported HIV testing. Reporting previous regular HIV testing (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-4.4) and more than 10 partners in the previous 6 months (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-1.4) was associated with recent HIV testing. (2) Analysis of 257,023 tests showed increasing monthly HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia tests pre-DDU. Post-DDU, gonorrhea test rates increased significantly among HIV-negative MSM, with modest and nonsignificant increasing rates of HIV, syphilis, and chlamydia testing. Among HIV-positive MSM, no change in gonorrhea or chlamydia testing occurred and syphilis testing declined significantly.

Increasing HIV/STI testing trends among MSM occurred pre- and post-DDU, coinciding with other plausible drivers of testing. Modest changes in HIV testing post-DDU suggest that structural changes to improve testing access may need to occur alongside health promotion to increase testing frequency.