Editor’s Note: We are pleased to bring you this guest blog post from the Black Women’s Health Imperative. Be sure to check out their Let’s Talk About PrEP campaign.
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” ― Audre Lorde
Let’s Talk About PrEP’s strategy is simple: Educate and engage. It’s closely aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in several ways. First, the campaign was launched in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, which have some of the highest HIV rates in the country. Second, the campaign is designed specifically to engage Black women who are among the Strategy’s key populations. Third, it promotes HIV prevention and, specifically, PrEP by providing scientifically up-to-date, consistent information for and about Black women. And finally, the campaign identifies clinical and non-clinical organizations that provide resources Black women can use to access culturally appropriate care, including PrEP.
Using multimedia platforms, including a website, and radio and digital ads, the campaign asks Black women, “Are You Having Sex?” and challenges them to get tested to find out their HIV status. It also encourages them to talk to their friends, family, and partners about the importance of taking charge of their sexual health and knowing all of the tools available to keep themselves safe. The campaign’s stunning imagery of Black women gives Black women a reason to pause and say, “This is about us.”
The campaign also uses street teams of Black women peer advocates. Armed with flyers and pertinent information, the street teams meet Black women where they are—at concerts, festivals and beauty expos—and talk to them about HIV prevention and PrEP.
This peer-to-peer outreach, along with the campaign’s multimedia efforts have allowed us to reach one million people in within the first six months of the campaign. It’s become so popular, organizations launching their own PrEP campaigns and services have asked to co-brand our campaign materials, and universities, foundations, government agencies, and faith-based organizations have requested us to speak about PrEP at events.
The campaign is off to a strong start and is moving full steam ahead, educating Black women about how HIV impacts women who look like them all across America and empowering them to take advantage of the growing options for preventing HIV, including PrEP. We invite you to join us in this campaign—learn more yourself, share the link and talk about PrEP with others, because in the spirit of New York Poet Laureate Audre Lorde, we must all be powerful and use our strength in the service of working together for a future free of new HIV infections in the United States.