A new multiplatform media campaign called Young, Deadly, Free aims to capitalise on a recent reduction in HIV diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The campaign is the brainchild of Associate Professor James Ward and is part of a federally-funded $3.4 million project being administered through the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
“Our most recent figures showed an annual reduction of 30 per cent in new HIV diagnoses among First Nations people, but overall the stats remain unacceptably high,” Associate Professor Ward said.
The prevalence of HIV among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is 1.6 times that of the non-Indigenous Australian-born population.
The majority of HIV cases among Indigenous people are in men who have sex with men, but transmission of the virus through heterosexual sex and drug injecting is also more common than it is in the general population.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also more likely to have undiagnosed HIV,” Associate Professor Ward said.
“This is a major issue because we know that, if treated, HIV can be reduced to levels that significantly reduce the risk of transmission.
“Because of these varied risk factors for contracting HIV, we need targeted messaging to share information about prevention, testing and treatment.”
The new campaign is being launched in Canberra today by the Minister for Indigenous Health, the Honourable Ken Wyatt, to coincide with the start of the annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week.
“The educational campaign features videos, posters and infographics which will be shared across a broad cross section of traditional and social media,” Associate Professor Ward said.
“There are specific messages for HIV, but they are just as important for other STIs and blood born viruses too.”
The Young, Deadly, Free videos can be viewed and downloaded here.