"Live Long. Live Strong. Get Tested," urges the new AIDS prevention campaign slogan for Baltimore City. With an award-winning logo, bus advertisements, TV and radio spots, billboards and even coffee mugs, the campaign is making a big impact. Advertising awareness has reached 76 percent, phone calls to the referral hotline have jumped almost 20-fold, and HIV testing is up by 130 percent at one monitored center.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, part of the School of Public Health, developed the campaign and designed the red ribbon logo for the AIDS Administration of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The logo--a version of the red AIDS ribbon in the shape of a question mark--won first place in the "Best in Baltimore" ADDY Award competition over 30 other logo entries for commercial products or companies.
According to James R. Williams, JHU/CCP associate director and project director, "The campaign is designed to communicate the benefits of early testing for HIV, which can lead to improved treatment and access to services and can dramatically lengthen and improve the quality of life."
Launched on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 1999, the campaign is designed to prevent the spread of AIDS in Maryland, where some 20,000 cases have been recorded since October 1981. That figure equates to one out of every 250 people. More people in Maryland have died of AIDS than of motor vehicle accidents, according to the campaign slide show at http://www.jhuccp.org/hiv_campaign.
And the epidemic increases at a rate of one new infection every four hours.
There are several audiences for the campaign. One of them is pregnant women who do not understand why testing is important. The key message is that mother-to-child transmissions can be significantly reduced with proper treatment.
"What kind of mother could give her baby HIV? An untested one," says one ad, picturing a healthy looking baby, that is running on the side of some Baltimore buses. "HIV is one thing you don't have to pass along to your baby. Because now there are treatments to avoid it. But you must get tested early," urges the ad, which lists a phone number (410-685-0525) to arrange testing.
A complementary effort is aimed at givers of prenatal care. The message for them: "Don't forget to discuss HIV testing with EVERY pregnant woman." In addition to buses, subway cars, radio and TV, the message is being spread through calendars, shopping bags, pens, mouse pads, lapel pins, posters and bumper stickers.
Another audience is "at-risk" individuals who are skeptical and fearful of HIV testing. A poster shows an African American man dunking a basketball with the caption "11 years with HIV. And he can still dunk in your face." The key message is, You can lead a healthy life with HIV, but you must get tested and treated early.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs is a pioneer in the field of strategic, research-based communication for behavior change and health promotion that has helped transform the theory and practice of public health. JHU/CCP has been a leader in the development of projects based on systematic needs assessment and clear strategies for positioning and presenting the benefits of health interventions to appropriate audiences. With representatives in more than 30 countries, JHU/CCP has developed and managed more than 300 country-based projects and contracts in 50 countries involving more than 200 local organizations and subcontractors.
The JHU/CCP website is at http://www.jhuccp.org.