Case Study

Strengthening HIV Awareness and Knowledge about PrEP among at-risk youth

The Challenge

Measures for HIV prevention exist, and yet new diagnoses remain high in some communities. 427 New Yorkers aged 13 to 24 years were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2017. Among this group, 59% were young Black and Latino cisgender MSM (men who have sex with men).

While PrEP has been around for years, only a small portion of those at high risk for HIV infection use it due to misinformation on side effects, effectiveness, and cost.

Our Initial Findings

We developed a year-long exploratory research study targeting YMCSM (young men of color who have sex with men) and YTWC (young transgender women of color) involving surveys, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and message testing. We learned many key insights from our participants:

  • Due to the stigma of an HIV/AIDS diagnosis, there is “constant anxiety” and anticipation of judgment
  • The perception that healthcare professionals lack training on delivering health care services to the LGBTQIA+ community results in feelings of isolation, shame, and fear
  • Trans women of color worry about side effects, fearing PrEP might interfere with the efficacy of their hormones
  • There is a desire to see a diverse campaign that conveys that “anyone” can catch an STI, “not just them”

Actionable Insights

We learned the key to reaching this demographic is to make them feel included, not targeted. We recommended PrEP create a campaign that humanizes those living with HIV, de-stigmatizes the Our findings led to these essential recommendations:

The key to reaching this demographic is to make them feel included, not targeted

Create a campaign that humanizes those living with HIV, de-stigmatizes the diagnosis, and promotes getting tested