Background: Between 1999 and 2002, San Francisco experienced a sharp increase in early syphilis among gay and bisexual men. In response, the San Francisco Department of Public Health launched a social marketing campaign to increase testing for syphilis, and awareness and knowledge about syphilis among gay and bisexual men.
Methods: A convenience sample of 244 gay and bisexual men (18-60 years of age) were surveyed to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. Respondents were interviewed to elicit unaided and aided awareness about the campaign, knowledge about syphilis, recent sexual behaviors, and syphilis testing behavior.
Results: After controlling for other potential confounders, unaided campaign awareness was a significant correlate of having a syphilis test in the last 6 months (odds ratio, 3.21; 95% confidence interval, 1.30-7.97) compared with no awareness of the campaign. A comparison of respondents aware of the campaign with those not aware also revealed significant increases in awareness and knowledge about syphilis.
Conclusions: The Healthy Penis 2002 campaign achieved its primary objective of increasing syphilis testing, and awareness and knowledge about syphilis among gay and bisexual men in San Francisco.