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Numbers Show That Prepping For Love Really Works

Chad and Elijah
Chad and Elijah

A new study shows Chicago’s HIV prevention campaign, which racked up 41 million views, is reaching those who need it most.

Three years ago, the Illinois PrEP Working Group (then called the Chicago PrEP Working Group) launched PrEP4Love, a sex-positive social marketing campaign designed to increase awareness of PrEP, an HIV prevention strategy, and Truvada, the only medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as PrEP, throughout Chicago.

The public education campaign featured print ads — with photos of Chicagoans who are most vulnerable to contracting HIV, particularly young Black gay and bisexual men as well as trans and cis women of color — and pop-up events around the city.

Now, a study by the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination at the University of Chicago reveals that the #PrEP4Love social marketing campaign generated roughly 41 million unique views across various social media platforms within four months of its launch.

“With these astounding numbers… we know the social marketing elements, pop-up events, ads, and messaging clearly resonated,” John Peller, president of the AIDS Foundation Chicago, said in a statement. “We still have much progress to make, however, and must continue to find innovative ways to increase PrEP awareness and access in the communities most impacted by HIV.”


Above: Beverly and Diahnte

Dr. John Schneider from University of Chicago noted that the study on PrEP4Love was the first on a “sex-positive PrEP public health campaign that is affirming to young, same gender-loving men, transgender women, and cisgender women; and is inclusive of their sexual orientations. Overall, the campaign reached millions of individuals, with substantial numbers receiving continuous education through multiple modalities including online, phone, and print. More studies are needed to examine this type of campaign in other contexts and to determine how to sustain its impact in the United States and abroad.”

The study also concluded that grassroots-organized social movements promoting health equity can successfully sidestep the increasing power of commercial and market interests in shaping public health interventions.

The PrEP4Love campaign was made possible by pro bono and volunteer services from four creative agencies: Leo Burnett, Starcom, Spark, and Razorfish; a grant from the Alphawood Foundation, and individual contributions.

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