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Social Marketing campaign to improve HIV (testing) literacy in gender variant/sexually diverse young people (GVSDYP) – Open Doors Youth Service Inc

Open Doors Youth Service provides support to young people with diverse genders, sex and sexualities.  We support young people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, Pansexual, Sister girl or Brother boy (LGBTIQAP+ Sister girl & Brother boy) aged 12-24 across South East Queensland. Open Doors Youth Service are based in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane but provide outreach in varying capacities they are Queensland’s leading LGBTIQAP+ youth homelessness service, working with young people who are at risk of/are disengaging with community and are at risk of/are experiencing homelessness.  

This project addresses limited HIV (testing) literacy in gender variant/sexually diverse young people, Open Doors Youth Service have experienced a major increase in gender variant/sexually diverse young people clients, many with mental health comorbidities. Open Doors Youth Service has trialled a community-based HIV and STI point of care testing PoCT) service, evaluating its acceptability and uptake. However, initial findings demonstrate extremely limited HIV literacy and limited knowledge of HIV testing, self-stigma informing (non) – empowering sexual negotiation, non-identification with gay community, reluctance to access peer PoCT spaces, and reliance on social media for sexual literacy.

Sexual Health practitioners across QLD have raised high rates of sexual risk practices in gender variant/sexually diverse young people as an issue of concern, and discussion with community HIV PoCT sites highlight limited HIV testing literacy materials relevant to this population. There is an urgent need to address HIV literacy to enhance HIV testing in this hard to reach population. 

This project will use a youth participatory approach to design a localised social marketing campaign to improve HIV testing literacy in gender variant/sexually diverse young people. The project is grounded in a community-based participatory framework, led by gender variant/sexually diverse young people. Core activities include:

  • Interviews with 20 gender variant/sexually diverse young people: undertaken by peers, to gain a detailed understanding of HIV (testing) literacy. The interviews will explore suggestions for designing and delivering appropriate, localized HIV literacy marketing with a focus on HIV testing for gender variant/sexually diverse young people. Effort will be made to over sample Indigenous, and culturally and linguistically diverse gender variant/sexually diverse young people.
  • Community workshop: World café format with up to 40 gender variant/sexually diverse young people, a leading international expert in the field, and representativeness from key community organizations and groups associated with HIV testing in QLD to examine strategies to enhance the marketing and promotion of HIV testing service to gender variant/sexually diverse young people.
  • Development of a peer designed localized social marketing campaign through Open Doors Youth Service to enhance HIV (testing) literacy for gender variant/sexually diverse young people.
  • This project will provide a template and case study for how to develop a tailored, localised approach to social marketing to enhance HIV testing literacy for hidden populations.