The only safe-sex promotion directly targeted towards the LGBTI community so far offered by the Queensland Health Department and Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) has ended. With no new replacement promotions it leaves the state without an active HIV education campaign until later this year.
The ‘Let’s End HIV’ campaign (pictured) was a general education promotion released by the Health Department in 2012, covering several affected groups. One aspect of the campaign targeted gay men and disseminated its message and adverts within Queensland LGBTI publications.
However, it has been revealed that the department’s advertising, done through media agency MediaCom, has not been renewed and the adverts will no longer be published by LGBTI media.
“The awareness phase of ‘Let’s End HIV’ has finished and our focus will now move to new messaging around protection, testing and treatment,” MAC chair Dr Darren Russell told the Star Observer.
The new messaging is to be based on market research currently being conducted by the Health Department and targeted campaigns will be launched before the end of this financial year, according to Russell.
The end of MediaCom’s advertising arrangements effectively leaves the LGBTI community in Queensland without an active and community-engaged HIV education campaign from the government’s peak HIV body.
When funded, the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) provided wide-ranging and community driven education campaigns that consistently ran within the community year-round.
QAHC executive director Paul Martin said he is critical of any gay men’s HIV awareness campaign that isn’t developed in conjunction with the community, its peak health bodies, and only uses one medium to spread its message part-time.
“We would expect any HIV prevention campaigns for gay men to be developed by gay men’s organisations… in consultation with gay men, be sex positive and non-judgemental and use a variety of strategies not just a series of adverts,” Martin told the Star Observer.
Martin said he is also concerned that Queensland’s HIV campaigns are now playing catch-up to new promotions being developed in other states and wasting tax-payers money by conducting redundant research.
“While other states have developed new HIV prevention campaigns for gay men, based on already existing and extensive national research, Queensland Health has lagged behind… and commissioning research which would seem to duplicate what already exists,” he said.
With recent developments in treatment and testing for the disease, Martin is concerned that these messages won’t be getting out into the community and is keen to see a continuation of campaigns.
“With new developments in ‘treatment as prevention’, easier access to HIV testing and greater use of risk reduction strategies, we need to get these new messages out.”