World AIDS Day, designated on December 1 every year, is a time to show support for people living with HIV/AIDS and to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses. Since the catastrophic rise in the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the United States beginning in the early 1980s, science and public health have progressed in learning more about the disease as well as identifying strategies for prevention and disease management for those living with HIV/AIDS. This progress is evidenced by the significant decrease in the number of emergent HIV diagnoses and the reduction of AIDS-related deaths since 2005.
Over the past three decades, there have been numerous advances in both HIV prevention and AIDS disease management. One example is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a risk reduction approach to preventing transmission of HIV that requires high-risk adults to take antiretroviral medication daily. On July 16, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the prescription drug Truvada for PrEP.
To increase awareness of PrEP, the New York City (NYC) Department of Health (DOH) implemented an outreach campaign in January 2015 outlining the benefits and guidelines of PrEP. The campaign encourages people to get tested for HIV, offers strategies to stop the transmission of HIV (one of which is PrEP), promotes open communication between sexual partners, and teaches about HIV risk. Results of a recent evaluation study indicate that PrEP awareness, the number of PrEP prescriptions, and PrEP knowledge among health care providers have increased over time.
Although awareness campaigns such as the one created by the NYC DOH are not under the purview of the FDA, most prescription drug promotional materials are regulated by the agency. Fors Marsh Group (FMG) has worked closely with FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) to test the presentation of prescription drug risk and benefit information in a variety of formats, including online, on television, and in printed materials.
Science and public health have made great strides in decreasing the transmission of HIV and reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths. This advancement is in large part due to prevention and disease management efforts, facilitated by the creation, approval, and promotion of prescription drugs like Truvada. Communication research, such as the research conducted by FMG, supports these efforts by identifying the most effective ways to increase awareness and knowledge of emergent prevention and disease management strategies, as well as the best ways to reduce and combat misinformation. Together, science, public health, and effective communication can collectively contribute to the continued decline of HIV/AIDS.
To see more of FMG’s work with similar organizations, visit our Experience page.