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AHF's Innovative 'Stay Negative' HIV Prevention Campaign Successfully Breaks Through to Target Audience

Effectiveness of High Impact Social Marketing Campaign, Funded in Part by

the County of Los Angeles, Measured by Remarkably High Recall,

Identification of Key Messages and Resonance Across Ethnic, Age and

Socio-Economic Boundaries

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A post-campaign survey of AIDS Healthcare Foundation's (AHF) innovative "Stay Negative" social marketing campaign recently revealed the initiative's success at breaking through to its target audience and reaching its objective to create an effective health education and risk reduction campaign to raise awareness among gay males in Los Angeles County that HIV infection is still a serious threat.

Among the results of the "Stay Negative" campaign, created by Fraser Communications, AHF's Agency of Record (AOR), and funded in part by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS Programs and Policy: 48% of survey respondents who recalled a campaign addressing men's sexual health or AIDS prevention clearly identified the "Stay Negative" campaign. When aided with the "Stay Negative" advertisements, a remarkable 74% of respondents indicated awareness of one or more of the ads.

The campaign also achieved resonance and appeal among a broad audience, most notably across ethnic boundaries, with 8 in 10 African Americans and Latinos reporting that they related to the advertisements. Most importantly, the ads proved motivating, increasing levels of intent to include HIV testing in respondents' overall health regimens. After viewing the advertisements, more than 55% considered including HIV testing in their overall health routine. The level of intent was even higher for Latino and African-American men at 65% and 72% respectively.

"We are particularly proud that the key messages of the 'Stay Negative' campaign-be healthy, stay negative, get tested-successfully broke through to its target audience, despite an atmosphere of fatigue and complacency that often surrounds safer sex messages twenty-five years into the AIDS epidemic," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "The success of 'Stay Negative' proves that it is possible to reach a wide, racially diverse audience with a clear and compelling message to have fun, be safe and make staying healthy a priority. With its broad appeal, this initiative could become a model for HIV/AIDS social marketing campaigns nationwide."

The highly effective creative utilized simple, clean visuals and light- hearted, but straightforward messages. For example, one of the advertisements featured three rows of condoms in various colors, with a day of the week written under each. The message at the bottom: "Have fun. Stay Negative." In an indication of the effectiveness and clarity of the messaging, an astonishing 73% of survey respondents-and 93% of African-American respondents- felt that the advertisements reminded them how important safe sex is to staying healthy.

One of the ads that appeared to have the greatest impact was part of a series of "healthy guy" ads. Each of these ads featured a photograph of a young and healthy-looking man with a short list of actions he routinely undertakes to take care of himself - including being tested for HIV and practicing safer sex. Of the survey group, 71% found the "health guy" ads appealing. 80% of both African-Americans and Latinos surveyed related to these ads, indicating a particular appeal among ethnic audiences. The most frequently recalled ad portrayed an African-American man with the messages: "Lifts 4 times a week, Cardio 6 times a week, HIV test 2 times per year." At the bottom of the ad: "Be healthy. Stay negative."

"The message of the 'Stay Negative' campaign is in alignment with the CDC's recent recommendations urging HIV testing as a routine part of healthcare in order to ensure more people learn whether they are infected, allowing them to benefit from early access to treatment and to reduce the risk of unknowingly infecting their partners," said Whitney Engeran III, Director of AHF's Public Health Division. "We are pleased to have found a way to engage the targeted audience, while also effectively communicating the crucial and potentially lifesaving message that condom-use and HIV testing should be as routine as going to the gym or wearing a seatbelt-just another measure you take to keep yourself healthy."

The integrative nature of the campaign was particularly effective as evidenced by high recall of all key media. Campaign elements included magazines and outdoor mediums, such as bus shelters and billboards, as well as guerilla media, including coasters and mirror slicks. A campaign website,, featured prominently on all materials, served as a resource for information about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually-transmitted diseases, facts about correct condom-usage and accessing HIV testing services.

"As the creators of the 'Stay Negative' social marketing campaign for AHF, we are truly gratified to see that our strategy of connecting at the level of people's values worked so well in cutting through the clutter of other messages and motivating people to stay negative and get tested," said Rene Fraser, Ph.D, CEO of Fraser Communications.

In order to evaluate the impact of "Stay Negative", Fraser Communications conducted a post-campaign survey between June 25 and July 25, 2007. The methodology consisted of both in-person intercepts and an online survey of men who have sex with men (MSM) residing in the targeted areas. The majority of the respondents in the study were between the ages of 36 and 50 (48%). Among the Latino respondents, 31% were between the ages of 18 and 25. Of the total respondents, 88% identified themselves as gay or homosexual, 44% were white, 25% were Latino and 23% were African-American.

Sophia Rumanes, Chief of the Prevention Services Division for the Los Angeles Department of Public Health's Office of AIDS Programs and Policy states, "We commend AHF's social marketing campaign and parallel evaluation strategy. In a County where 1 in 4 of its residents living with HIV is unaware of their infection, efforts to promote health and encourage HIV testing is crucial."

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 61,000 individuals in 15 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at

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SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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