New York State rebranded its Partner Services program's image in the community from a historical view as the “Sex Police” to a trusted and helpful service to the community. Check out this initiative and watch the PSAs below!
Partner Services (PS) represents a core public health strategy for preventing the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). To be effective and to build community trust, community members and health care providers first need to be aware of what PS are, what they can provide, and how they can be of assistance to them.
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) identified the need for rebranding its PS program image in the community from a historical view as the “Sex Police” to a trusted and helpful service to the community. The NYSDOH collaborated with The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) to develop two 1 minute 30 second social media video Public Service Announcements (PSAs), one targeted to health care providers and one targeted to patients/community members/others. Both PSAs promoted HIV/STI testing, PrEP, risk and harm reduction education and PS.
URMC applied the TTM/Stages of Change Model to the PSAs for Providers and Patients/Consumers to address barriers in participation of the PS process to be referred for testing and treatment and providing contact information for Partner Notification of their partners or others who may have been exposed.
At times, those diagnosed or notified of exposure to STIs including HIV, may experience fear, stigma, and be reluctant to participate in the PS process. The patient/consumer PSA was designed to educate individuals and move them to the preparation stage, so they understand what PS is, how the services can help them, be aware that they may be contacted by the NYSDOH if they test positive for an infection or are exposed to one, and be ready to accept PS. To better understand what a person may experience during and after an STI test and to inform the PSAs, a URMC staff member was tested for STIs in a local health clinic. In addition, the URMC staff member met with a local PS Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) to learn more about the PS process. The staff’s first-hand experiences were used in the development of the patient/consumer PSA storyboard to address the patients/partners/others fears about PS that were barriers to moving to the preparation/action stages.
Providers may be unaware of PS and not know the services offered. The provider PSA focused on the services offered by PS and how PS can extend the continuum of care to their patients, partners, and others who may have been exposed. Clinical providers and other clinical staff reviewed the initial storyboards and draft PSA versions to provide feedback via surveys for the final provider PSAs.
The provider PSA was distributed directly to health care providers using provider networks, provider organization distribution listservs, and through local health departments. A social media toolkit with sample hashtags, media posts and blog ideas for YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat, etc., was shared along with the patient/community members PSA to community-based organizations, state and local health departments, and NYS Ending the Epidemic (ETE) community groups. The PSAs are also shown at various provider meetings for public awareness.