Founded on the belief that housing is the single most powerful step for improving the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of homeless people living with HIV and AIDS, Housing Works connects patients to to medical support and advocates to social outreach programs. Through peer education, creative content development and nationally recognized government advocacy, Housing Works is bolstered by a team of hearts and minds whose sole purpose is to build a foundation for those marginalized, ignored, or silenced.

In 2015, Housing Works launched a new multi-media campaign, drawing attention to the proven success of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) as an amazing new HIV prevention tool. With nine models serving as spokesmen for the success of their PrEP regimen, the PrEP Heroes campaign was created to highlight the heroism of those who not only protect themselves, but protect their community from HIV exposure through diligent treatment.

“Protect yourself.
Protect your community.
Protect your future.”

The campaign portrays the everyday heroes and faces of PrEP in a way that demands attention through dramatic imagery, helping members of the community to see themselves as potential role models and change-makers in New York City’s plan to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020.

Discovery

We began this project by researching the power of PrEP and reviewing recent studies that prove the efficacy of AIDS prevention. This groundbreaking era for AIDS marks a new narrative – that those at risk for AIDS can take agency and responsibility over their bodies, their futures, and their communities by protecting themselves. By kicking off the PrEP Heroes project with heavy-duty research, we learned about the powerful new drugs accessible to the gay and discordant community, as well as the meaningful stories that live within the Housing Works community.

“PrEP Heroes are on duty 24/7, fighting aggressive viruses, negative stigmas, and uninformed stereotypes in an effort to change the face of HIV.”

Emotional Targeting

To highlight each of the nine models and give them a public face that visitors to the microsite could connect with, we created a simple questionnaire asking about their first experiences with PrEP, why being a PrEP Hero was important to them, and how they think communities can work together to trump conventional AIDS stereotypes.

While each model answered their questionnaire, we also worked closely with the Housing Works team to focus on the Emotional Targets that would shape the tone of the campaign’s content. What did audiences need to feel at first glance? What did they need to feel when they interacted with the microsite? And, what should they feel when they talked about the campaign with others?

Content Development

From there, the content outline for the project began to take shape. We wanted the website to serve as a directory of next steps that would be easy to understand and act on, for visitors who are at risk for transmitting or contracting HIV, as well as people who serve as HIV and PrEP educators in their community. We began with an engaging landing page that complemented the campaign’s behind-the-scenes video, calls to action that inspired audiences to book an HIV test, and Housing Works locations.

“These heroes are committed to stopping the transmission of HIV, forever changing the fate of hundreds, and history as we know it, with a single empowered choice.”

We worked with Housing Works staff, including doctors, clinicians, and case workers who work one-on-one with those seeking information on AIDS prevention, to shape the information in that section section so that all of the next steps available to visitors would be clear and easy to take action on. Much like our work with The Undetectables, the FAQ section was the most intensive section of the site, covering emotional need states, critical medical information, and community issues that focus on AIDS prevention.

Conclusion

PrEP Heroes sheds light on how it only takes one leader to start a movement that can protect your community. We're so proud to work with this team of leaders and advocates to help them share stories of heroism, personal agency, and prevention as they work tirelessly toward their goal of eradicating AIDS by 2020. To learn more about Housing Works and the services they provide to their community, visit HousingWorks.org

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