Communication in infectious disease surveillance: PART 2: Health communication case study
Chapter 41.2 from Infectious Disease Surveillance Second Edition, edited by Nkuchia M. M'ikanatha, Ruth Lynfield, Chris A. Van Beneden, and Henriette de Valk. A sharp rise in syphilis in 2001 among gay and bisexual men in San Francisco prompted health officials to introduce a novel social marketing campaign titled “Healthy Penis.” The primary goals of the campaign were to raise awareness of the syphilis outbreak, enhance knowledge about syphilis, and to increase the frequency of syphilis testing. Evaluations of the campaign revealed that >80% of respondents were aware of the campaign and men who were aware of the campaign had greater knowledge of syphilis and were more likely to be tested. We believe that because the campaign was developed by the health department in collaboration with the gay community and included relevant community values, it successfully reached the target population and resulted in increased syphilis knowledge, testing, and, subsequently, a reduction in syphilis incidence in 2005. After cessation of the campaign, a resurgence in syphilis infections was observed among gay and bisexual men. In 2008, the Healthy Penis campaign was relaunched; evaluations of its impact are underway.
Klausner JD and Ahrens KA. Health Communication and Surveillance Case Study: A Healthy Response to Increases in Syphilis—The San Francisco Healthy Penis Campaign. Eds: M’ikanatha, Lynfield, Van Beneden and de Valk: Infectious Disease Surveillance 2nd edition 2013. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, Massachusetts.