Independent researchers have found HIV prevention campaigns are getting the safe-sex message to people.
A Victorian AIDS Council spokesman told Southern Star data from medical research centre the Burnet Institute showed -œpromising figures in recognition and recall of health promotion messages.
The new VAC HIV prevention campaign revises the controversial promotion series featuring pornographic images. The new advertisements feature direct quotations from situations where people put themselves at risk of HIV.
The Burnet study of 212 respondents was conducted at this year’s Midsumma carnival and took a snapshot of the community’s recognition of two recent VAC prevention and awareness campaigns.
The Institute’s head of HIV/STI research, Dr Mark Stoové, said the results indicate the general health message is getting across.
-œA very high proportion of those who could recognise the campaign could also report back at least one of the messages involved in the campaign.
The study looked at levels of recognition, whether people could recall specific campaign messages and what effect the campaigns had on people’s discussion with friends about sexual risk-taking and if there was subsequent health-seeking behaviour, like testing.
According to results, campaign recognition was -œvery high, with around 85 percent of the group recognising images from the Drama Downunder STI campaign and 72 percent recognising images from the latest -œporn unprotected anal intercourse campaign.
Stoové said he hopes the results will precipitate a medium to long-term decline in sexual risk-taking behaviour and notification of HIV and STIs.
Around 20 percent of respondents said they’d visited a GP after being prompted by the campaign.
Stoové said the campaigns have so far proved successful in encouraging health-seeking behaviours in a -œmeaningful number of people exposed to the messages.
-œI think the nature of the images is quite creative and it’s certainly grabbed people’s attention and really put HIV and STI prevention back on the radar
VAC health promotion manager Colin Batrouney said he was pleased by the figures and agreed the use of pornographic images has generated much discussion.
Batrouney said most criticism stems from the explicit nature of the campaign and from those arguing the community is about more than sex.
-œOur brief is to look at issues related to unprotected anal intercourse in casual settings and there’s no way you can approach those issues without actually doing it in a sexual context.
-œThe Grim Reaper certainly shocked people, and we’re certainly called upon by people to try and scare people into doing the right thing again -” but the problem with that approach is that you only get to scare people once.

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