June 04, 2019
There is a daily pill called PrEP that can be taken by HIV negative people to prevent them from becoming HIV positive. This pill could be useful to key groups of young people (Black and Latinx MSM and women ages 16-24 years) in Washington, DC who are at risk. Public health campaigns have been developed to increase PrEP awareness and use in these groups. However, these campaigns have not worked as well as expected. One possible reason for their ineffectiveness is that they did not engage a large number of young people to develop the campaign messages or look. As a result, campaigns may lack the innovation and relevance needed to increase awareness, acceptability, and uptake of PrEP by key groups of young people.
The proposed study will use an online contest to develop and test PrEP promotion campaigns for key groups of young people in the DC metropolitan area. The research team will design a contest website for people to submit responses (contest entires) to an idea prompt. Anyone can participate in the contest, but they will actively recruit young Black and Latinx MSM and women, and review and score all contest entries. The top 10 entries will be shared with a panel of community judges for scoring and posted on our online platform for an online vote; the top 3 entries and the entry that receives the most online votes will each win prizes. The researchers will also create draft campaigns from the winning contest entries. During the study, they will collect survey and interview information to determine if the contest worked—was it liked, feasible, raised awareness or interest in PrEP, and did they engage the community. Contestants (about 125) will complete brief pre-and post-contest surveys about themselves, PrEP, and opinions on the contest. The team will also collect web information such as how many times people visited the contest website. Semi-structured interviews with 15 contest participants will be used to further explore feasibility, engagement, and changes in PrEP related behaviors. Surveys of 200 young people will be used to assess whether they like the crowdsourced mock campaigns or a national campaign currently being used to increase PrEP awareness. They will also collect feedback on the crowdsourced mock campaigns during planned community events. Data from these activities will be used to create recommendations which will be finalized with our youth advisory board. Recommendations will be shared with local community-based organizations and DC Health. The study team will hold a free workshop to share lessons learned from conducting the online contest and report on recommendations. They will publish and present findings in journals and at meetings across the country, and post recommendations on the contest website. Sharing the recommendations and the open contest process will help others engage their communities to create more relevant PrEP campaigns.