Latinos make up 16 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 21 percent of new HIV infections.
Lack of access to healthcare, fear of stigma, and low perception of HIV risk are major obstacles to HIV testing.
And after diagnosis, barriers to treatment often include lack of health insurance, difficulty navigating the U.S. healthcare system, and a shortage of culturally competent healthcare facilities.
The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) joined with Erie Family Health Center to tackle these barriers for people of Mexican descent – the largest subset of the Latino population in Chicago – through a citywide project designed to connect Mexican men to HIV testing and medical care.
The group turned to Public Communications Inc. to make Mexican men aware of it. Our challenge was to develop a marketing campaign guided by public health principles.
Our goal was to develop a message that would resonate with
Mexican men and inspire them to seek HIV testing and care
services. The campaign had to appeal to two distinct audiences:
- Mexican men who primarily speak Spanish and are unaware of their HIV status.
- HIV-positive Mexican men who identify as gay or bisexual and are not engaged in care.
The call to action? Get tested or treatment for HIV at Erie Family Health Center.
The campaign launched in October 2014 ahead of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day with citywide Spanish-language and bilingual bus shelter ads that put a twist on the colorful cards used in lotería, a bingo-style game played by Mexican families in their homes since the late 1800s.
The concept emerged from focus group discussions with Mexican men of different ages and backgrounds. The men shared their experiences navigating the healthcare system and bridging between the Mexican
and American cultures.
As a result, each ad has a bold color (to grab attention) and lists key services (to reduce perceived barriers to care): free and confidential HIV testing; easy-to-schedule appointments; bilingual/bicultural staff; no questions asked about legal status; high-quality HIV care regardless of ability to pay; counseling, psychiatry and support groups; dental and substance abuse treatment; respectful atmosphere.
We created four different bus shelter ads:
In one ad, the lotería card for El Valiente (the Brave One) is reimagined as a man who takes care of his health for his family. Another illustrates the challenge of life with HIV through a mix of cards and declares, “Erie can help you win the game.” There’s even an ad tailored for the gay, bisexual and transgender community with a headline that reads, “no matter what card you hold, all are welcome at Erie.”
We placed bus shelter ads in predominantly Mexican neighborhoods. The awareness push also included lotería-themed PSAs on Spanish language radio stations
To capitalize on the visibility, we implemented aggressive media
relations outreach to targeted outlets that reach the same audiences,
creating an additional bounce for the ads themselves while providing
an extended platform to spread the message about testing.
Our client conducted 115 intercept surveys at multiple locations where the campaign appeared:
52 percent of respondents rated the campaign as “extremely influential” or “very influential” in reducing stigma related to HIV testing. Another 32 percent described the ads as “somewhat influential.”
73 percent of respondents said they would consider getting health services, such as an HIV test, at Erie Family Health Center.