HIV Testing Adaptable Key Messages




Illustration featuring a computer screen displaying information on HIV testing key messages by CATIE. Surrounding the screen are various bubbles with text about the importance of knowing your HIV status and testing at home, alongside illustrations of people and brochures.

CATIE has a long-standing commitment to bridging research and practice and supporting the work of health and community-based service providers.

From a broad needs assessment came the idea of producing adaptable resources to speak to different priority populations on the topic of HIV testing. The vision was to create an interactive website that would allow service organizations and individuals to pick and choose from central messaging and imagery to produce custom posters and postcards that reflect specific contexts and experiences of HIV testing.

The Need

CATIE approached us to strategize, map out, design and develop a central platform for this project. Our goals were to:

  • reduce barriers to and de-stigmatize HIV testing, normalizing testing as part of everyone’s basic healthcare routine;
  • share ownership of the campaign goals by offering resources that can be adapted for maximum impact in local contexts;
  • provide avenues for population-specific responses to HIV stigma and stigma around testing;
  • reflect the diversity of people at higher risk of HIV exposure in Canada, producing resources in which members of priority populations can see themselves reflected;
  • support thriving communities, communicating that HIV testing is something that everyone can do to protect themselves and others; and
  • increase the access to and shareability of customizable resources pertaining to HIV testing.

The Work

We began this project by separating out how the tool is framed from how the key messages are presented within it. For the tool, we proposed an approach that centres community self-determination and positions CATIE as a partner in developing resources that are effective in specific contexts.

In this partnership, everyone brings a lot to the table: CATIE provides the infrastructure (platform), resources, and communications, and AIDS service organizations (ASOs) bring the grounded knowledge that comes from working in community. This framing highlights the “Do-It-Together” approach of the Adaptable Key Messages, that decentralizes messaging and builds shared ownership for messaging campaigns. It allows ASOs to easily leverage their experience into relevant materials for their contexts, and feel supported by CATIE in that process.

From there, we mapped out a structure and user interaction, and proposed a creative concept for the posters themselves.

The Idea

HIV testing is for everyone

This concept highlights how the key messages work to shift fear around HIV testing by normalizing testing amongst priority populations, and destigmatizing testing broadly—a strategy that would have everyone know their status. It presents opportunities for showing that testing doesn’t happen in isolation, but rather that it is a community act, and that everyone should get tested to support themselves and those they love.

This concept is also an opportunity to visually “un-do” some of the ideas around being “high risk,” creating a campaign that is relatable to different populations without singling individuals out.

A person is putting up a poster on a wooden pole. The poster reads, "You can now test yourself for HIV at home. The self-test is accurate, easy to use, and gives results within minutes." It includes an illustration of people gathered together with an urban backdrop.

We brought this concept to life through illustrative work that highlights that testing isn’t an individual act, opting instead to depict people in empowering positions, and particularly, people together. This concept celebrates testing as part of maintaining thriving communities.

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