Casey Conway, VAC and the NTAHC on their new campaign
The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) have spoken out about the new health campaign featuring Aboriginal model and youth and family practitioner Casey Conway.
The groundbreaking new campaign is modelled on the VAC’s successful Drama Downunder campaign which encouraged increased sexual health testing.
In response to rising rates of HIV and other STIs in the Northern Territory, leading to the
territory having the highest STI rates in the country such as a syphilis outbreak in that has seen over 300 cases in the Northern Territory alone, the campaign has been adopted in the territory.
NTAHC Executive Director Kim Gates said:
“An increase in HIV infections and the high rates of STIs demonstrate a serious issue about equal access to health and education in the Northern Territory.
“Aboriginal people, particularly those living in remote and very remote communities, often have little or no understanding of the importance of maintaining their sexual health. Health clinics are under-resourced and over-burdened by conflicting and competing health needs, which often results in sexual health taking a back seat.
“The school health curriculum does not include education around STIs and blood-borne viruses and the only reference to using condoms is to prevent pregnancy.”
Part of the approach of the new campaign is to remove the stigma from sexual health by taking a light-hearted approach to testing, a similar approach was used by the Drama Downunder campaign.
The posters and advertisements show former rugby league player and openly gay man, Casey Conway, in his underwear along with the message: “Wet or dry—any season, sexy health is deadly! Get tested, get treated no drama!”
“We have to do something about STIs in the Northern Territory, and among Aboriginal people in particular.
“I really hope the campaign will get people testing every three-to-six months—once in the wet and once in the dry. As the campaign says, get tested, get treated, no drama.”
Last year the VAC developed a ‘Seasons’ version of their long-running campaign, which encouraged people to use the changing seasons as a prompt to get a sexual health check four times per year. However, as the Northern Territory has just two distinct seasons, wet and dry, the campaign for the Top End needed to be adapted.
VAC CEO Simon Ruth said this was a reminder that health campaigns need to be targeted to individual states and territories:
“When I first talked to NTAHC about bringing our seasonal testing campaign to the Northern Territory, Kim reminded me they don’t have four seasons up north—it’s just wet and dry,” Ruth said.
“There’s a good lesson here in the ways health promotion campaigns developed by the large HIV
organisations down south don’t always take into account the specific needs of communities in the Top End. It’s been great to work with NTAHC to adapt a successful campaign like the Drama Downunder for a new audience.”