Background: Sexual and gender minority youth who are homeless, unstably housed, or street-oriented (runaways, sex workers, squatters) are at increased risk of HIV and STDs. To reach this high-risk population, a local GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign was adapted (based on formative research with intended audiences), implemented and evaluated.
Methods: A three-month campaign, including materials dissemination and mobile STD testing, was conducted in four venues in New York City to reach sexual and gender minority youth, ages 25 and younger. After the campaign, street-intercept surveys were conducted using iPads at the venues to assess the campaign’s impact on testing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.
Results: Respondents (N=152) were predominantly African-American (48%) and Latino (36%). Overall, 36% identified as gay or lesbian, 27% straight, 21% bisexual or bi-curious, 5% pansexual, and 4% queer. Gender identities were 42% male, 33% female, 13% transfemale, 6% transmale, and 6% gender nonconforming. Almost one-fourth (23%) were homeless or in transitional housing. In the last year, 30% reported having 4+ sexual partners. One-quarter were ever diagnosed with an STD. Recent testing prevalence was high: 63% were tested for STIs or HIV in the last 3 months. Twenty-six percent of respondents reported seeing GYT. Among them, 97% reported talking about STDs/testing with someone and 74% reported STD testing during the campaign period, compared to 87% and 58% (respectively) of youth who had not seen GYT. Differences were not statistically significant for talking (p=0.072) or testing (p=0.087). No differences in knowledge or attitudes were observed between those who had and had not seen the campaign.
Conclusions: These findings, though limited by small sample size, suggest promising evidence that a campaign, adapted with community input to be culturally appropriate for sexual- and gender-minority youth, may be positively associated with testing behaviors, even despite already-high levels of testing in the community.