Welcome to Condom Country Campaign: Final Evaluation Report

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Press release

Nov. 25, 2002

MESSAGE RECEIVED – RIDE SAFELY, SAYS CONDOM COUNTRY SURVEY

Gay men in Ontario have got the message – the rate of HIV infection in the province has been on the rise and gay men need to practise safer sex.

Preliminary findings of an Ontario survey examining the effectiveness of the Condom Country awareness campaign on gay and bisexual men are positive, say researchers. Forty-one per cent of men surveyed about the Condom Country ads, which featured two cowboys on horseback under the headline “Welcome to Condom Country”, said they would be more likely to practise safer sex. Almost 75 per cent said they felt the campaign was effective in reaching men who have sex with men. The ads, sponsored by the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), ran on billboards, posters and bus shelters in the summer of 2001.

“We are impressed with the knowledge that this particular educational intervention appeared to be effective and work so well,” says Professor Ted Myers of the HIV Social, Behavioural and Epidemiological Studies Unit in the Faculty of Medicine at U of T. “The messages that were behind the Condom Country campaign seemed to have penetrated the community, and more importantly, beyond Toronto, which was not the primary focus. There’s greater awareness than we expected in most of the 13 regions where this study was conducted.”

Myers and his team worked in partnership with the AIDS Committee of Toronto to find out how effective the ads were at reaching the gay and bisexual male population in 13 communities across Ontario. John Maxwell, ACT’s Interim Co-Executive Director and Director of Community Development, says he was surprised by the high visibility of the campaign throughout the province, despite its Toronto focus. “I think it showed that the public service announcements on television clearly reached these men and that Toronto’s gay media like Xtra! or fab reached beyond city borders to a lot of gay men in smaller communities. The campaign, which included outdoor advertising, increased awareness of HIV and helped put HIV back on the agenda in Toronto and other gay communities in the province.”

Over 3,500 men from Toronto to Thunder Bay responded to specific questions about the Condom Country ads from January to June 2002. Their responses indicated that the objectives of the campaign had been realized. Sixty-two per cent said the ads’ main message was to practise safer sex; 40 per cent also identified the rising rate of HIV infection as a main message.

These findings are a small portion of the results from the Ontario Men’s Survey, a two-year study launched in January 2002. The Men’s Survey is examining sexual behaviour and factors contributing to the rise of HIV/AIDS in the gay and bisexual communities and will propose strategies to reverse the trend. That full report will be released in the spring of 2003.

This research was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, AIDS Bureau, and GlaxoSmithKline Positive Action Fund.

The University of Toronto, Canada’s leading research university with 60,000 students, is celebrating its 175th anniversary in 2002. On March 15, 1827, King’s College – precursor to the University of Toronto – was granted its royal charter by King George IV. The university now comprises 31 divisions, colleges and faculties on three campuses, including 14 professional faculties, numerous research centres and Canada’s largest university library system – the fifth largest research library in North America.

The AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) is a community-based, charitable organization whose mission is to provide support, HIV prevention and education services for people living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS.


CONTACT:


Ted Myers
Department of Public Health Sciences
416-978-8979
ted.myers@utoronto.ca

John Maxwell
AIDS Committee of Toronto
416-340-2437 ext 245
jmaxwell@actoronto.org



Janet Wong
U of T Public Affairs
416-978-5949
jf.wong@utoronto.ca