The most effective way to engage and communicate with a particular audience, is to deliver your message at the right time and using the right medium.
I’m talking in particular about safer sex messaging with MSMs (Men who have Sex with Men) living in Ireland.
Some quick background data via (Dublin Aids Alliance) 320 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2011 (3% reduction on 2010 figures) of that, the highest proportion of new diagnoses in 2011 (42.5%) were among men who have sex with men (MSM) 8.8% of HIV infections were in 15‐-24 year olds.
There are groups doing outstanding work in outreach, education and prevention. Having worked as a designer with LGBT publications over the years I found the medium and messaging of Safer Sex adverts in magazines don’t reflect the language or modes of communicating with MSMs. They seem timid and perhaps, because they must meet ASA (Advertising Standard Authority) regulations and therefore often lack visual punch.
Going back to my opening statement, we need to directly communicate with MSMs on a one to one basis when they are about to make safe/unsafe sex decisions. We do that by inhabiting the space where they are looking for sex these days, the smart phone.
There has been a huge surge in the past 5 years in MSMs using apps such as Grindr, Scruff, Manhunt to hook up with other men, yet the presence of organisations working to reduce infections and create awareness is non-existent. My suggestion is that groups join Grindr, Scruff.. etc create their own open profile and encourage users to ask any questions or discuss sexual health issues with a trained volunteer in confidence. Admittedly this wouldn’t be a 24hr service but it could certainly work Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights when people are out and socializing (while also checking their iPhones for Grindr messages)
This is just food for thought. I have already written to the HSE with my suggestions, which I told are being looked at. Maybe because I’m impatient and want to see change happen I’m writing this so you might campaign with me.