Campaign: Trust aims to lessen HIV stigma among Africans

According to the Heart of Birmingham Teaching NHS Primary Care Trust, the number of people living with HIV in Birmingham is growing. At the same time, the uptake of sexual-health leaflets is poor because of the stigma associated with HIV.

Campaign Steps2Health
Client Heart of Birmingham Teaching NHS Primary Care Trust
PR team 90TEN Healthcare
Timescale Nov 2006-Feb 2006
Budget Undisclosed

his is especially true of the black African community, where the rate of HIV infection is growing fastest.

Objectives
To raise awareness of the health issues around HIV among black Africans through events and local media coverage. To increase the number who access HIV information and to encourage those at risk to test for HIV.

Strategy and Plan
90TEN worked with the Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust to launch a website, www.steps2health.org.uk, to target the city's African population. It was the first of its kind to contain a short online questionnaire that allowed assessment of HIV risk. World Aids Day (1 December 2005) was used as a news hook to mark its go-live date.

On launch day, a balloon release - using balloons printed with the website URL - took place outside Birmingham Cathedral, with a candlelit vigil for those who have died from an Aids-related illness. Dr John Sentamu, formerly the bishop of Birmingham and now the Archbishop of York, provided a supporting statement for the website.

To extend the life of the campaign,CDs were distributed in place of information leaflets. The launch was followed by a community event featuring African fashion, music and dance.

Measurement and Evaluation
The launch of www.steps2health.org.uk was covered by the Birmingham Evening Mail and websites including BBC News, Black Britain, Positively Women, Topix and BlackNet. On the airwaves, the BBC, Heart FM and GFM Radio also mentioned it.

The community event was covered by the Birmingham Mail and BBC WM, Heart FM, local independent station BRMB and GFM Radio.

Results
One month after launch, steps2health.org.uk had received 7,581 hits. It now receives an average of 2,403 hits per month. An average of 40 online questionnaires are completed each month.

Three-hundred people attended community event Steps2Health - a celebration of African culture - at the Centennial Centre in Birmingham, and more than 5,000 CDs have been distributed.

Alison Dayani, health correspondent at the Birmingham Mail, recalls: "The balloon launch went in, but on a busier day might not have. That said, HIV always makes a good story and we like to get the African community in."

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