Can a campaign like this really have an effect on people’s behaviour? Can graphic design save people’s lives?
For every phase of the campaign, we commission independent research and evaluation which, to date, has found that the campaigns have been very positively received and have changed people’s behaviour in line with our objectives around increased testing and awareness of safer sex methods. In statistical terms, one study showed that two-thirds Londoners felt the campaign had positively influenced their practice of safer sex and 68 per cent reported that it had strongly influence their behaviour towards HIV testing.
In terms of our overall strategic goal – to reduce new HIV infections and prevent late diagnosis – it was confirmed last week that, for the first time in 35 years of the epidemic, HIV diagnoses fell in London by 40 per cent during 2015 and 2016 – directly aligning with the lifetime of the LHPP. That decline appears to have continued during 2017, though data out early next year will confirm that as an ongoing trend. A similar steep decline was not witnessed in the rest of the UK.
Detailed evidence, compiled by Public Health England (PHE), confirmed that this was a consequence of markedly increased testing rates in key groups, alongside the prompt provision, at diagnosis, of anti-HIV medication by our world-class sexual health and HIV clinics.
Further analysis of Do It London, by University College London, found a statistically significant increase in HIV testing during the exact period of the first Do It London campaigns in 2015, among both MSM and black Africans. Statistically adjusted analysis of this clinic data found that HIV testing rates remained significantly higher for local black African men and black African women after Do It London began, compared to before the campaign launched.
Furthermore, PHE data published in September revealed that, for the first time in a decade, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates in London dropped by five per cent in 2016, with a 19 per cent drop in gonorrhoea rates overall (an impressive 25 per cent reduction in MSM, which reflects the focus of Do It London in upweighting our reach to that audience for that particular advertising burst). In their official report, PHE London explicitly cited the impact of Do It London in promoting condom use and regular screening, in helping to drive this record reduction.
What happens next?
We have just been shortlisted for "Campaign of the Year" by the Local Government Chronicle Awards, which is a real boost to end a hugely busy, but productive and rewarding year.
In a practical sense, the LHPP is funded until at least March 2019, but our budget was reduced this year by 13 per cent, so it’s a battle to keep the momentum going and to build on the achievements we’ve clearly made to date whilst protecting the front line as much as possible from financial cuts.
Meanwhile, the current campaign is still live and we are already working on plans for 2018. We have some more surprises in store for next year!
Do It London is the multimedia public health campaign element of the London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP). So far, it has delivered five separate campaigns under the “Do It” theme to date, focusing on various elements of HIV prevention and the prevention of other sexually transmitted infections.