March Lunch & Learn: STOP HIV/AIDS Pilot Project

Join us for our March Lunch & Learn session, as Steve Raper (Director of Communications for Northern Health), Mike Doran (Partner and Agency Director, Splash Media Group, Inc.) and Joanne MacDonald (Communications Officer, Northern Health) talk about the STOP HIV/AIDS Pilot Project.

When: Friday, March 22

Time: 12pm – 1pm

Where: Regional District of Fraser Fort George, Board Room

Cost: $20 for members/ $25 for non-members

Lunch: Included

RSVP: By March 20 (on our Facebook page or email

About the Session:

The outbreak and mass publicity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s created a culture of fear and misunderstanding about the virus and its transmission. Since then, with significant changes in available treatments including highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), extensive research has proven that contracting HIV is not a death sentence, with people now living healthy, productive lives after being diagnosed. Yet, after 35 million deaths from AIDS worldwide since its outbreak, HIV/AIDS is still surrounded by many myths and stigma, creating challenges for those wishing to publicly communicate information about HIV/AIDS.

Northern Health and the Province of B.C. are addressing these challenges through the STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project. STOP — which stands for Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention — is a four-year, provincially-funded initiative, running from 2010 to 2013 in Prince George and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Northern Health’s STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project is an ambitious multi-media, community-outreach collaboration between Northern Health, its community partners and the Province of B.C. The project aims to normalize HIV testing; educate and bring awareness to northerners about the benefits of early HIV testing and treatment; and ultimately reduce the spread of HIV throughout northern BC.

The four-year pilot project began in 2010 to educate the public on safe sexual behaviour and the risks of certain types of drug use. Northern Health’s preventive public health department worked extensively with community partners, actively supporting the HIV-positive population, connecting them with existing services, and developing new testing initiatives. The STOP project’s education and awareness component, launched in May 2012, featured an aggressive online and traditional advertising campaign, with messaging encouraging early HIV testing and treatment. The public campaign was a true collaborative effort, with Northern Health staff forming an advisory group with key community partners to develop messaging speaking to all age groups, genders and sexual preferences. The community partners included Positive Living North, the Northern BC  First Nations HIV/AIDS Coalition, and the Central Interior Native Health Society, as well as physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care providers. Splash Media Group Inc. played a pivotal role, providing the branding and creative guidance for the public campaign.

Together, Northern Health and its partners launched their public call to action on May 29, 2012 — encouraging northerners to seek early HIV testing and, if necessary, early treatment.

About the Speakers:

Steve Raper, Director of Communications at Northern Health, is a professional communications executive with 15 years’ experience. Working in the college and university sectors before moving to the health care field five years ago, Steve has a wealth of experience managing and leading issues, crises, web, marketing, and internal communications for large, complex organizations. Steve believes in life-long learning and has been accepted to study law part-time. He is a proponent of skill-based learning seminars and opportunities, and also enjoys networking with other communications professionals. In his spare time, Steve teaches college business courses. He also serves on the boards of Pacific Sport North, Prince George Youth Soccer, and the Canadian Blood Services Liaison Committee, provincially and nationally.

Mike Doran is a Partner and Agency Director of Splash Media Group Inc., and leads most client initiatives. With over 17 years of experience, Mike’s passion is making businesses succeed through strong creative and strategic execution. Mike and his team worked hand in hand with the Northern Health team and partner agencies on the STOP campaign, with Mike’s nine staff members all involved with the project. With Mike as the team lead, Splash led the engagement consultations, identified market segments, brand development, messaging, marketing material selection, marketing budget creation, media buying, design for all materials, photography, and video.

Joanne MacDonald, a Northern Health Communications Officer, previously worked as a journalist for daily and community newspapers and, from 2005 to 2010, was employed as a communications officer with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, a national not-for-profit municipal advocacy organization based in Ottawa. Joanne joined Northern Health in October 2011 to work on the Stop HIV/AIDS pilot project, and was the liaison between Northern Health, its community partners and Splash Media. Joanne organized and facilitated the brainstorming/consultation sessions that brought Northern Health and the advisory group partners together, from the inception of the public campaign to its rollout. She is also the lead content editor for, and writes, edits and produces communications materials for the STOP team.

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