The impact of a social marketing campaign on HIV and sexually transmissible infection testing among men who have sex with men in Australia

Anna Lee Wilkinson, Alisa Edith Pedrana, Carol El-Hayek, Alyce Vella, Jason Asselin, Colin Batrouney, Christopher Kit Fairley, Timothy Richard Read, Margaret Elena Hellard, Mark Stoove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Background: 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.

Materials and Methods: (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.

Results: (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 non significant 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.

Conclusions: 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49 - 56
Number of pages8
JournalSexually Transmitted Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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