PrEP4Love campaign reaches 41 million+
In 2016, the Chicago PrEP Working Group (now the Illinois PrEP Working Group, which includes AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Project HEAL, and the Alphawood Foundation Chicago, among others), launched PrEP4Love, a citywide sex-positive social marketing campaign designed to increase awareness of PrEP in and around Chicago. The PrEP4Love campaign consisted of social media marketing and pop-up events proffering information specifically geared toward communities most vulnerable to HIV-negative young Black gay men, bisexual men, and other MSM, transgender women of color, and Black heterosexual women. The campaign also placed ads throughout Chicago on CTA trains and buses, in addition to digital campaigns.
The Chicago Center for HIV Elimination at the University of Chicago studied the efficacy of the PrEP4Love campaign and found that it had generated roughly 41 million unique views across various social media platforms within four months of its pilot launch across Chicago. The study showed, through the percentage of returning site users and the increasing amount of time users spent on the website, that the first wave of marketing had a positive impact on PrEP awareness.
The PrEP4love.com page listing health care providers who prescribe PrEP was the most popular link clicked by site users, possibly indicating that users were providers to start taking PrEP. Data reviewed from the PrEPLine—( 872) 215-1905, a phone line that connects patients who are interested in PrEP to local resources—further indicates that the campaign demand has moved beyond online features to in-person calls made related to PrEP. Importantly, the data on how users identify themselves shows the campaign is indeed reaching young Black gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.
Dr. John Schneider, University of Chicago, commented, “This paper is the first to describe a sex-positive PrEP public health campaign that is affirming to young, same gender-loving men, transgender women and cisgender women, and is inclusive of their sexual orientation… More studies are needed to examine this type of campaign in other contexts and to determine how to sustain its impact in the United States and abroad.”
Elijah McKinnon, Creative Director and Founder of People Who Care and PrEP4Love model ambassador, added, “The PrEP4Love campaign has proven the value of centering pleasure and intimacy over traditional fear-based tactics that are commonly found in HIV/STI prevention. People of all identities… crave genuine connection and experiences that make them feel good. PrEP4Love can serve as an example for future campaigns aimed at truly engaging communities in authentic conversations around safe and healthy harm-reduction practices, such as PrEP.”
The campaign was made possible by pro bono and volunteer services from four creative agencies: Leo Burnett, Starcom, Spark and Razorfish, and was supported by a generous grant from the Alphawood Foundation and the thoughtful contributions of numerous individuals. Extensive community input, including focus groups, helped shape the campaign.
—Reporting by Hank Trout
Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his fiancé Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.