AIM--To assess the relationship between national and local media campaigns with respect to the number of patients requesting HIV antibody tests as a surrogate marker of the effectiveness of different campaign strategies. METHODS--Analysis by month of the numbers of HIV tests performed in the regional genitourinary (GUM) clinic for Lothian over a 5 year period and in the whole of Lothian Region, Scotland over a 3 year period. Changes in testing rates were monitored with respect to media campaigns over the same time period. RESULTS--Television based media campaigns produced the greatest increase in testing rates (average 46% increase over 2 months) compared with newspapers and poster campaigns (average 6% increase over 2 months). Regional HIV testing rates correlated significantly with GUM clinic testing rates. No increase in positive HIV tests was seen following media campaigns. CONCLUSIONS--Using HIV testing rates as a surrogate marker, television based media campaigns appear to be the most effective way of increasing awareness of HIV. The effect of media campaigns is short-lived indicating a need for constant reminder of the dangers of HIV infection. The increase in HIV testing occurs largely in the "worried well" with few additional HIV positive patients being identified.
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