Study Finds Prevention Campaigns Contribute to Reduction in HIV Rates

Today the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) released a new report, "D.C. Takes On HIV: Public Awareness, Resident Engagement and a Call to Action," which details the results of an extensive survey of residents' awareness, knowledge, and behavior associated with the city's five-year social marketing campaign for HIV prevention. 

The report outlines the effectiveness of the D.C. Takes on HIV, Ask for the Test and Rubber Revolution campaigns and document success in achieving campaign objectives. The report reveals that the campaigns have been effective at reaching DC residents, especially those most impacted by HIV/AIDS. The campaigns have played a part in people receiving and acting on information to get tested for HIV, get access to free condoms, and to protect themselves and their partners. Most notably, Ask for the Test prompted a significant number of residents to be proactive about HIV testing and Rubber Revolution increased use of condoms among DC residents. In addition, the campaigns have contributed to a dramatic reduction in new HIV cases and an increase in treatment access and enrollment for residents living with HIV/AIDS.

"We know that D.C. Takes on HIV and its companion campaigns work," says Dr. Joxel Garcia, director of the D.C. Department of Health. "Reaching residents in their homes or on the way to school or work is one of the best ways to connect residents to the array of HIV-prevention resources we offer. Providing those resources is the first step to combatting HIV. Connecting residents across the city to these resources is equally important."

The 'D.C. Takes on HIV: Public Awareness, Resident Engagement and a Call to Action' poll is based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 3 through Feb. 9 with adults, 20-64 years of age, in Washington, D.C. A total of 810 respondents representing the citywide population of the District were interviewed. Braun Research, Incorporated (BRI), headquartered in Princeton, N.J., conducted the sampling, screening, interviewing and tabulation for the survey.

"Our social marketing efforts bridge the awareness gap between DC's world-class HIV/AIDS services and residents in every ward," says Michael Kharfen, senior deputy director of the HIV/AIDS, STD, Hepatitis and TB Administration (HAHSTA). "We're thrilled to be able to quantify the success of the D.C. Takes on HIV campaign. With what we've learned from this study, we can continue to make improvements to our outreach efforts and increase resident access to sexual health services."

Key findings include:
- D.C. Takes on HIV (44 percent), Ask for the Test (39 percent), and Rubber Revolution (14 percent) had high visibility throughout the city, with a wide reach and high recall among survey respondents.
- The social marketing campaigns increased DC residents' awareness of and knowledge about the city's free condom and HIV testing services. More than two thirds (71 percent) of survey respondents said they know about the city's free condom services because of the campaigns.  And half (50 percent) of respondents also said the campaigns provided them with new knowledge about HIV and testing.
- Survey respondents reported displaying protective behaviors ranging from getting HIV information (36 percent), to getting tested for HIV (27 percent) and using condoms more frequently (28 percent) as a result of seeing the social marketing campaigns.

"Ask for The Test and Rubber Revolution put the power of positive sexual health choices in the hands of District residents," notes Kharfen. "Every year we're making new gains in improving overall public health in DC by creating behavior change and promoting direction action on an individual level."

Source: District of Columbia Department of Health