The findings and conclusions in these presentations have not been formally disseminated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 10:15 AM

Evaluation of “Stop the Sores”: A successful social marketing campaign for syphilis elimination among men who have sex with men, Los Angeles County, 2004

Aaron Plant1, Jorge A. Montoya2, Harlan Rotblatt2, Charlotte Kent3, Karen L. Mall4, and Peter R. Kerndt2. (1) Sexually Transmitted Disease Program, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 2615 S. Grand Avenue, Room 500, Los Angeles, CA, USA, (2) Sexually Transmitted Disease Program, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, 2615 S. Grand Ave., Room 500, Los Angeles, CA, USA, (3) San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA, USA, (4) AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Los Angeles, CA, USA

The syphilis epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Los Angeles County has been addressed through several efforts including a social marketing campaign. The campaign, “Stop the Sores,” was developed and managed in collaboration with community organizations that serve MSM.

The primary goal of the campaign is to increase syphilis testing among MSM. Secondary goals of the campaign include increasing awareness and knowledge of syphilis. The campaign evaluation assessed brand awareness, syphilis knowledge, and testing behavior among MSM exposed to “Stop the Sores.”

MSM (18 to 60 years of age) were surveyed using a street-intercept interview in communities targeted by the campaign. Interviews were conducted in public places such as bars, sidewalks, and coffee shops. The instrument collected information on risk behaviors, campaign recall, syphilis knowledge, and syphilis testing. The interview questions were asked without prompts, producing less biased results than typical interview methods.

Between October and December 2004, 297 MSM completed the evaluation interview. Of these, 71 percent had been exposed to the campaign. Men exposed to the campaign were significantly more likely to have tested for syphilis in the last 6 months than men who were not exposed (OR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.05-3.20). Men exposed to the campaign were also significantly more likely to know that syphilis facilitates HIV transmission (OR, 2.50; 95% CI, 1.33-4.68).

A majority of MSM interviewed recalled the “Stop the Sores” campaign. Exposure to the campaign was significantly associated with recent syphilis testing behavior and knowledge gains.

The “Stop the Sores” evaluation demonstrates that social marketing can be an effective tool for addressing syphilis infection among MSM. Furthermore, it may provide a model for more rigorous evaluations of social marketing campaigns.