London’s ground-breaking HIV prevention campaign, Do It London, is one-of-six campaigns that have been shortlisted across the UK for the Campaign of the Year category at the distinguished LGC Awards 2018.
The latest Do It London campaign, which is live now and will run until early 2018, uses simple and clear imagery to inform the public of the variety of options for avoiding transmission of HIV through sexual contact.
The campaign encourages Londoners to “do it your way” by advocating that HIV prevention consists of a combination of options, including using condoms, testing regularly for the virus, using Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and, for people who have been diagnosed HIV positive, achieving an “undetectable” viral load through the use of antiretroviral medication.
Do It London is run by The London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP), a collaboration led by Lambeth Council on behalf of 30 London boroughs and the City of London. Each partner contributes to the LHPP on a sliding scale relative to the HIV prevalence in its area. The programme delivers London-wide outreach and condom distribution as well as the capital’s HIV prevention campaign.
Word from the cabinet
Cllr Jim Dickson, Cabinet Member for Healthier and Stronger Communities, said: “I’m proud that Lambeth has led on this, and delighted at the recognition this important and effective campaign is receiving through the LGC Awards 2018. Do It London’s impact has been clearly demonstrated and thus very worthy of nomination.”
Dramatic drop in HIV diagnoses in London
The ‘Do it your way’ phase of the campaign follows two years of successful Do It London social marketing to promote HIV testing and safer sex in the capital. During that same period, HIV diagnoses in the capital dropped dramatically, with a record 40 per cent reduction in new diagnoses in five central London clinics. Such a dramatic fall was not observed in the rest of England.
The latest campaign was coordinated with the launch of a new NHS Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) trial which will make the preventative drugs (taken by HIV-negative people to protect against the virus) available to groups considered at high risk of HIV, such as men who have sex with men, at no cost from sexual health clinics.
Tackling HIV stigma
The campaign also introduces the concept of achieving an “undetectable” HIV status. Recent scientific studies have shown that people with diagnosed HIV, on medical treatment with an “undetectable viral load”, cannot pass the virus on to their sexual partners.
“Undetectable” means that the virus, whilst still present in the body, is effectively suppressed and no longer detectable in standard blood tests. Therefore, being “undetectable” means a person cannot transmit HIV through sex.
Paul Steinberg, Lead Commissioner of the London HIV Prevention Programme said: “Do It London has made a major contribution to the substantial increases in HIV testing in the city, with very positive consequences for early diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
“We are very pleased that this new campaign also publicises PrEP and undetectable status for the first time, as part of a combination of measures to prevent HIV.”