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Novel Approaches to Promoting HIV Testing

Sydney Local Health District
Project Added:
23 February 2016
Last updated:
8 April 2016

Novel Approaches to Promoting HIV Testing


Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) promoted a community HIV testing service called a[TEST] in Newtown, through a digital marketing strategy and advertising in public spaces.


To increase HIV testing rates in gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) that live, work or socialise in Inner West Sydney.


  • Increases engagement with gay men and MSM in the local community, through social media and online communities.
  • Educates the target audience on the importance of regular HIV testing.
  • Enhances collaboration between local health districts and non-government organisations.
  • Increases access to HIV testing and other community health services, reducing the risk of HIV in target audiences.


The demographics of Inner West Sydney are changing, with a notable increase in the number of gay men and MSM in recent years. Greater visibility of local services is imperative to reflect the demographic shift and ensure access to healthcare services that are relevant to the local community.

The NSW HIV Strategy 2012-2015 set ambitious targets for the HIV sector, including an increase of HIV testing and treatment. SLHD had a Tier 2 key performance indicator to increase HIV testing by 50% in 2014-15 and an additional 30% in 2015-16.

Targeted promotion of HIV testing to priority populations was recognised as instrumental to meeting these key performance indicators. Historically, promotion of the services offered by the Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Sexual Health Service was limited to advertising in gay and other print media.  Engaging with the community on social media had not previously been attempted, due to SLHD local policy restrictions and a lack of expertise in managing online communities.

It was determined that a partnership with ACON (formerly AIDS Council of NSW) would engage a greater number of gay men and MSM and promote the services offered by the RPA Sexual Health Service, including the Sexual Health Clinic and a community HIV testing service called  a[TEST], through targeted online promotion and social media strategies.


  • A Sexual Health Service Consumer Reference Group was created, comprising of gay men and MSM of Inner West Sydney. They provided advice on making clinical services more accessible to the target audience and assisted in the development of advertising and community engagement strategies.
  • A range of digital marketing strategies were trialled over two phases in 2014-15, including Google AdWords, Facebook posts and advertising within gay dating apps. These ads were targeted to gay men and MSM living, working and socialising in the Inner West.
  • A landing page promoting a[TEST] was developed and hosted on ACON’s ‘Ending HIV’ website. It facilitated online booking requests for HIV testing appointments, a function not provided by SLHD.
  • Each phase of the campaign was evaluated by digital marketing analytics, to identify the most cost-effective advertising options that delivered the best results.
  • SLHD and ACON have signed a Memorandum of Understanding until 2018, to ensure the continuation of HIV testing services and campaigns in the Inner West.

Project status

  • Sustained - the initiative has been implemented and is sustained in standard business.

Key dates

  • Phase One: 28 July 2014 – 11 Aug 2014
  • Phase Two: 15 January 2015 – 22 March 2015
  • a[TEST] Newtown established November 2013

Implementation sites

  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sexual Health Service
  • a [TEST] Newtown


  • HIV and Related Programs Unit, SLHD Population Health
  • ACON
  • Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations


  • Data showed a 42% increase in HIV testing at the Sexual Health Clinic in 2014-15.
  • The campaign delivered an increased efficiency in all HIV testing services at the Sexual Health Clinic and a[TEST], including point of care testing offered by peers.
  • There was a high level of community engagement on social media channels, driving increases in traffic to both websites. The number of unique page views on the a[TEST] landing page increased from 746 to 1578 within a week of launching the campaign, while page views on the Sexual Health Clinic website increased from 31 to 952 during the same period.
  • An increase in community awareness of HIV testing sites in SLHD was achieved, measured by the number of new clients who accessed sexual health services directly following each campaign phase.  New clients accessing a[TEST] Newtown between in 2015 were 550, which was 89.72% of the total number of clients for the campaign period.
  • Other local health districts in metropolitan Sydney are now implementing this model, which recognises the unique role of non-government organisations in reaching a targeted sector of the community online.


  • 2015 NSW Health Innovation Awards Finalist, Preventative Health
  • 2015 SLHD Quality Awards Winner, Preventative Health

Lessons learnt

  • Feedback from the Sexual Health Service Consumer Reference Group was very positive, with several members engaging with online and offline campaign materials.
  • The project demonstrated how local health districts and non-government organisations can collaborate and provide accessible clinical services.
  • The social media marketing campaign has demonstrated how activity undertaken by non-clinical services can complement and enhance clinical outcomes and help local health districts meet their key performance indicators.

Further reading


Brooke Dailey
HIV and Related Programs (HARP) Health Promotion Manager
Sydney Local Health District
Phone: 02 9515 1291

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