In response to increased HIV notifications among men who have sex with men (MSM) between 1999 and the mid-2000s, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) funded a range of HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention social marketing initiatives and has maintained funding for ongoing and new initiatives since. These social marketing initiatives included outdoor advertising (e.g., posters) at public transport stops, in addition to advertising via radio, print and online which provided information on a range of sexual health issues.
In 2008, the Burnet Institute was commissioned to evaluate these HIV prevention initiatives and established an evaluation cohort of Victorian MSM to do so. A series of online surveys have been completed by the cohort on a semi-annual basis since 2010. Results from these evaluations provided to DHHS have informed the refinement and design of HIV prevention initiatives in Victoria.
The 2012 and 2014 reports can be accessed here and here, respectively.
HIV prevention knowledge and technologies have continued to evolve with the introduction of rapid point-of-care testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and treatment as prevention (TasP). PrEP involves the use of antiretroviral medications by HIV-negative individuals to prevent HIV acquisition. TasP refers to the dramatically reduced risk of HIV transmission from individuals who are receiving HIV treatment and are virally suppressed; evidence accumulated over the last two decades has led to the HIV/AIDS community accepting that people who are HIV-positive and virally suppressed can’t sexual transmit the virus to others. The WHO now recommends PrEP for all individuals at substantial risk of HIV and the commencement of treatment as soon as possible for all individuals diagnosed with HIV.
In the last few years, the availability of HIV pharmaceutical prevention measures to Australian MSM has increased through clinical trials (e.g., PrEPX) and the recent (April, 2018) subsidisation of PrEP by the Australian Government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. In consideration of all this, we’re re-establishing the HIV prevention evaluation cohort – to collect information from participants regarding their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours as they relate to contemporary HIV risk and prevention.
What does the study involve?
The 2018 survey is live now. It will close in the second week of September. Participation involves completing an online survey (around 15 minutes) which includes questions on basic demographics, sexual health and behaviours, alcohol and other drugs use, and HIV prevention.
Click here to participate in the survey.
Each participant who completes the survey will go in the draw to win one of two $200 Coles Group vouchers.
Who can participate?
We are looking for gay men, bisexual men, trans men and trans women who have lived in Victoria in the past 12 months to complete the 2018 survey.
The study’s Participant Information and Consent Form is available to view and download here.
In addition to informing HIV prevention initiatives in Victoria and demonstrating that social marketing campaigns can increase HIV/STI knowledge and testing among Australian MSM, findings from our online surveys have indicated that: