With an ambitious goal of ending new transmissions of HIV by 2025, the NZ Aids Foundation is on a mission to educate its community about sexual health and a good sex life.
As a not-for-profit in the public health sector, the NZ AIDS Foundation’s (NZAF) strategy aims to maximise the public health outcomes for the communities it serves. Among those outcomes is to prevent HIV transmission, increase HIV testing and maximise the well- being of people living with HIV.
Despite these efforts, there were year-on- year increases in new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) in New Zealand and 2016 reached the highest in the foundation’s history with 251 new diagnoses.
The foundation faced a challenge in the perceived low-risk of HIV among MSM as people felt HIV had been left in the 80s and 90s. It was also up against low testing rates and low levels of condom use.
To address the real situational risk in its communities, NZAF needed a campaign that was relatable without being condescending.
The solution was a behaviour-change marketing initiative called ‘Ending HIV’.
NZAF describe the campaign as the “knowing older brother” as it could say the things NZAF couldn’t. ‘Ending HIV’ talked about sex in a non-clinical way that was genuine and relatable for MSM in New Zealand.
NZAF has set a goal with ‘Ending HIV’ to halt HIV transmissions altogether by 2025. To achieve this, ‘Ending HIV’ needed to normalise testing, increase condom/prevention tool use, and engage those living with HIV. However, with each of these came challenges to inform misconceptions and educate the community.
To normalise testing, and increase the number of MSM getting tested every six months, the campaign promoted HIV and STI screening as part of a good sex life. It created a narrative that used real situations that MSM experience in ensuring a satisfying sex life, and addressed the fear of testing and presenting it as another part of being ready to have great sex.
To increase prevention, the campaign promoted the idea of choice, with the famous Kiwi saying: ‘Choice’.
To help, it also created the ‘Condom Toolkit’ – an interactive Web and Masturbation resource to help users find the best condom for them.
And finally, to engage those who have
HIV in order to reduce stigma and encourage early treatment, ‘Ending HIV’ used the sex-positive messages ‘Drop your load’ and ‘HIV stops with me’.
These were coupled with videos featuring Kiwi comedian Tom Sainsbury and drag-queen starlet Courtney Act.
In its mission to normalise testing, ‘Ending HIV’ increased the awareness of testing, with 79.4 percent of MSM surveyed reported knowing “It’s recommended that sexually active MSM test for HIV twice annually”.
That’s up 6.7 percent from previous surveys. On top of this, 49.2 percent of MSM surveyed reported testing for HIV in the last six months, up from 45.3 percent, while 32.8 reported knowing about HIV self/ home testing, up from 17.9 percent.
‘Ending HIV’ has also increased awareness around prevention with 96.8 percent of those who completed the evaluation of the web-tool saying they felt more confident using condoms.
And finally, ‘Ending HIV’ has also increased awareness around treatments and prevention measures.
These results have contributed to the first consistent decline of this scale in new HIV transmissions – a monumental milestone on NZAF’s journey towards ending new transmissions altogether by 2025.
NZ AIDS Foundation
Ending HIV in Aotearoa by 2025
Frost*collective, ACON, Chillbox, Mix Digital
“A fantastic approach and solution to some overwhelming challenges. Excellence in strategy and execution across the board well done!”
Bowel Cancer NZ, Engineering New Zealand, New Zealand Olympic Committee, The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, The Movember Foundation
This piece was originally published in the 2019 Awards Issue of NZ Marketing magazine. To get a print copy, subscribe here.