Title : Utilizing immersive theatre to reduce HIV-Related stigma and discrimination among sexual minority populations
Background: Despite advances in biomedical HIV prevention modalities such as pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent the transmission of HIV, racial/ethnic and sexual/gender minority populations are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic. Alarming rates of HIV have persisted among Black gay and bisexual men, particularly in Southern states.
Methods: Utilizing data from the ViiV ACCELERATE! Initiative, we explored the impact of As Much As I Can, an immersive theatre production, on HIV-related stigma behaviors. A self-administered post-performance survey was conducted with a cohort (n=322) of randomly selected audience members.
Results: Overall, the results showed participants had a highly favorable experience, rating the performance with a mean score of 9.77/ 10. Respondents indicated they intended to change behaviors to promote HIV prevention education and to reduce stigma and discrimination including: 1) Say something if I hear stigmatizing language against people living with HIV (75.4%), 2) Say something if I hear anti-gay language (69.7%) and 3) Tell others about HIV prevention options (e.g., PrEP, PEP, condoms (64.1%). The findings show there is an association between HIV-related behavior intention and linkage to HIV care. Respondents who reported they were more likely to say something about HIV stigma were almost 3 times (O.R. 2.77; 95% C.I. 0.98 – 7.8) more likely to indicate they would follow up with a healthcare professional.
Conclusions: This study suggests that immersive theatre is an effective method for communicating HIV prevention education and reducing HIV-related structural stigma and discrimination that increases HIV vulnerability for Black sexual minority men.