A new campaign featuring a very cheeky, not-safe-for-work short film, illustrating a new approach to medicine-based HIV prevention through ‘event-based PrEP’ (EBP).
The film and website have been developed to help gay and other men who have sex with men make an informed choice between daily dosing and event-based PrEP.
This as-needed approach has not been discussed widely in Australia, with HIV prevention campaigns exclusively encouraging daily dosing.
The website describes the six steps that must be followed in order to benefit from the flexible protection offered by EBP.
The campaign promotes awareness of the method because it offers flexible protection, with the capacity to make PrEP a more affordable option.
It can be used to cover sexual ‘events’ ranging from a single encounter, a party weekend, to busy weeks or even months.
The initiative, which is called ‘Rinse & Repeat’, promotes three key messages: “There is a choice, learn how to use it, and talk to your doctor.”
The film included as part of the initiative is titled Whatever comes your way, and uses animation to visualise the way EBP unfolds across a weekend.
‘Rinse & Repeat’ is targeting gay and bisexual men and trans folk who want protection during anal sex – event-based PrEP does not provide protection for frontal or vaginal intercourse, the campaign says.
The creators of the initiative say that the frankness and explicitness of the visuals is intended to spark a conversation about EBP, based on the knowledge that early adopters often become informal educators for friends, partners and in online communities.
The illustrations are by queer artist and writer Samuel Leighton-Dore, and the animation is by Sydney animator and visual artist Gisele Nour.
The project is funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Dynamix International, and is an initiative of Daniel Reeders, an experienced campaign strategist, writer and researcher, and Dr Darren Russell, Director of the Cairns Sexual Health Service, former chair of the HIV Foundation Queensland, and contributor to the Australian clinical guidelines on PrEP.
A 2014 French study, IPERGAY, demonstrated the effectiveness of on-demand PrEP in which participants took two pills 24 hours before sex, and then two separate one-pill doses in the two days following.
At the time, organisations welcomed the study cautiously, with some concerned by the limited amount of research into the method.
At this year’s International AIDS Conference, Jean-Michel Molina – lead investigator of the IPERGAY study – presented new data from the ongoing ANRS Prevenir Study, in which participants choose to either take EBP or continuous PrEP.
The data showed that event-based PrEP was preferred by participants who engaged in fewer instances of condomless anal intercourse and had fewer sexual partners, with a HIV incidence of zero in both groups.
“For a long time HIV campaigns in Australia have only mentioned daily dosing, with ‘take the pill every day’ perhaps taking the place of ‘use a condom every time’,” Reeders said.
“This resource targets ‘early adopters’ who typically want more detail and often become educators for their friends and partners – and sometimes even their doctors.”
“The IPERGAY study showed event-based PrEP is just as effective as daily dosing, even when it is only used occasionally,” Russell said.
Having worked in HIV clinics in Paris, he noted that “a significant proportion of gay and bisexual men in France are doing event-based dosing – they don’t have any difficulty understanding the approach.”
“The concept for the film is super-cheeky and sex-positive and I loved it – I’ve never been asked to include more penetration before,” Leighton-Dore said.
The initiative’s website notes that PrEP use is very much an individual decision made in consultation with a doctor, and that all the usual clinical check-ups are required.
Watch the short film below, and head to rinseandrepeat.info to learn more about the initiative.