It Starts With Me aims to cut new infections though condom promotion and the reduction of undiagnosed HIV infection through increased testing. More testing means more people aware of their status, making them better placed to prevent HIV being passed on. As a positive diagnosis leads to viral load reducing treatment, increased testing will also reduce infectiousness on the individual and community level.

The campaign also promotes condom use to ensure that any reduction in infections that result from increased testing and treatment are not wiped out by a rise in unprotected sex. ‘Test. Treat. Protect. Take Action’ runs across the campaign as a call to action. It Starts With Me stresses the role of the individual responsibility we all have in stopping the spread of HIV.

Target audience

For men who have sex with men (MSM) the campaign’s target group is men under 35, reflecting where the majority of infections and diagnoses occur in this population. Black Africans (BAs) aged 25-45 are the other target group, reflecting UK African epidemiology and how African men in particular have HIV without knowing longer than any other group.

Expert advice from the Programme Steering Committee and Campaign Development Group will inform the programme on emerging needs of other groups highly affected by either undiagnosed HIV infection, late HIV diagnosis or other issues relating to sexual health. Terrence Higgins Trust’s audience research has shown that imagery which includes a variety of ethnic groups and genders often increases the engagement within our target groups, especially BAs. Broadening the inclusiveness of the programme could be achieved without losing the focus on the most affected groups (MSM and BAs) by making the messaging and imagery more inclusive when appropriate.

Campaign delivery

The It Starts With Me summer campaign (May to August) will engage people with the campaign and its calls to action will relate to condom use, risk reduction and HIV testing. It will also motivate individuals to become advocates, with the aim of increasing the reach of the intervention. Unique elements include emotionally engaging video content and event-based promotion at MSM and BA community events.

National HIV Testing Week (late November) will focus the nation on HIV testing. At other times in the year the programme will emphasise other prevention methods, such as using condoms and Treatment as Prevention (TasP). This will include both digital and traditional media promotion as well as locally delivered interventions.

More information on National HIV Testing Week.

Other, primarily digital, events will include one during autumn supporting the role of people living with HIV in prevention. At four other designated times, online content will focus on issues relating to the wider determinants of health including: mental health, alcohol and drugs, relationships and gender equality.

‘Always-on’ activity throughout the year will consist of:

  • MSM and BA branded ‘blog’ web-pages to provide thought leadership and to address not only HIV issues, but also wider determinants of health related to HIV, sexual health and behaviour through original and curated content.
  • Content marketing via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with daily postings and original content following the agreed behaviour change strategy.
  • Promotion of video clips of different lengths and formats to optimise each platform (Facebook auto play, YouTube pre-roll etc.)
  • Paid promotion of behaviour-change tools and postal testing.
  • Four printed issues of Mambo magazine for African communities which will provide easy access information on HIV and sexual health, as well as general health, wellbeing and lifestyle issues.
  • Email marketing to those who have signed up for updates on the campaign, the blog or related health/wellbeing content.
  • Ongoing influencer engagement, especially with those who create their own online content, in order to further amplify campaign messages and to promote events, HIV testing and behaviour change tools.

Event-based activity will include the elements above (as appropriate) and add:

  1. Outdoor advertising in areas with high populations of target groups to create thought disruption, generate interest and drive action.
  2. Print, broadcast and phone app advertising on targeted channels.
  3. Face-to-face interventions by local activation partners.


The programme will provide a range of printed information resources and  behaviour-change tools to be used in face-to-face settings, available to all organisations engaged in HIV prevention and testing work in England. In this way the programme will support and add value to Local Authority-funded HIV prevention work as well as clinics and primary care.

Current resources available to order.