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NEWS RELEASE · 10th September 2013
Northern Health
Northern Health’s STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project receives provincial and international accolades

Northern Health and its community partners have been recognized internationally and provincially for its STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project education and awareness campaign that promotes the benefits of early HIV testing and treatment and aims to prevent the spread of HIV throughout northern B.C.

“This STOP HIV/AIDS funded work perfectly illustrates how effective a collaborative, grassroots campaign can be," said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skill Training, and MLA for Prince George-Valemount. “Congratulations to Northern Health and its partners for winning these impressive awards."

The campaign won three Gold Quill Merit Awards from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in New York City on June 24, 2013. The three awards were presented to Northern Health, with Prince George-based Splash Media Group, in the following categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Advocacy Communication, and Advertising Campaigns. The Gold Quill Awards are presented annually to the top communications projects selected from hundreds of entries from around the world.

Provincially, Northern Health and its community partners won the Gold Apple Award in the Collaborative Solutions category at the seventh annual Excellence in BC Health Care Awards, presented in Vancouver on June 24, 2013.

“It is a rare honour to be acknowledged on both the international and provincial stages for our work, and we are humbled and gratified to receive these awards,” said Cathy Ulrich, Northern Health chief executive officer and president. “I commend our Northern Health team, Splash Media and all of our community partners for their collaboration, dedication and extremely hard work in making our STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project such a success.”

“Strong communications are key to the success of any project,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and MLA for Nechako Lakes. “What a wonderful achievement it is for Northern Health and its partners to be ranked among the best global communicators.”

STOP HIV/AIDS — which stands for Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS — was conducted as a pilot project from 2010 to 2013 in Prince George and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This component of Northern Heath’s pilot project was an ambitious, multi-media education and awareness campaign conducted in collaboration with community partners including Positive Living North, the Northern BC First Nations HIV/AIDS Coalition, the Central Interior Native Health Society, as well as physicians and health care providers throughout the North.

The success of the STOP campaign led to HIV tests in northern B.C. increasing by over 1,800 in 2012.

“The increase in HIV testing in northern B.C. since the start of the STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project shows the program has been highly effective,” said Mike Morris, MLA Prince George-Mackenzie. “This program makes a difference in the lives of northerners by helping to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS.”

Splash Media played a pivotal role, providing the branding and creative design of the campaign. Using traditional and online advertising, as well as community outreach, the campaign featured persons living with HIV, health care providers, HIV educators and other HIV champions spreading a key message: that everyone, regardless of age or gender, should be encouraged to take an HIV test.

A cornerstone of Northern Health’s campaign is HIV101.ca, a website designed to provide comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS testing, treatment and support services in northern BC. The website not only offers information to the general public, but also to health care professionals.

The Province of BC committed $48-million in funding to Northern Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority, Providence Health Care, and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS to complete the four-year pilot project.

The success of the pilot project prompted the Province of B.C. to announce a provincial expansion, taking lessons learned and successes from the STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project and implementing them in all health authorities.