1. This picture of a new billboard in Gillette, Wyoming went viral after being posted to Reddit yesterday.
And people have questions.
2. Here’s a close-up:
“Wyoming Has Gonorrhea. Do You? Get A Free HIV/STD Test At knowyo.org”
3. The bold billboards went up in early October as part of the Wyoming Department of Health’s STI prevention initiative: KnoWyo.
They’re part of a strategy to help reach people outside of KnoWyo’s digital platform, according to Molly Adami, field epidemiologist at Wyoming Department of Health, who spoke with BuzzFeed Life via email.
KnoWyo is run by the Wyoming Department of Health (funded by the CDC) and includes information on STIs, testing, unintended pregnancy, and other sexual health issues. It also offers a testing voucher that people can take to any of the 42 clinics across the state that offer free or low-cost testing through the campaign, said Adami.
4. “We found that direct, candid messages direct more people to the site and prompt them to get testing vouchers [more] than coy advertising techniques,” Adami says.
5. This year alone, the gonorrhea rate more than doubled in many Wyoming counties.
125 cases of gonorrhea have been reported this year compared to 75 last year, many of those from an outbreak this summer, according to Courtney Smith, M.PH., communicable diseases surveillance program manager at Wyoming Department of Health.
That’s especially alarming considering gonorrhea’s resistance to some medications and that the STI can increase your risk of being infected with HIV and other STIs, said Smith.
6. Versions of these billboards are posted in the six cities with the highest rates of STIs in Wyoming.
The messages on the billboards vary — mentioning HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or STIs in general — and they’re everywhere from busy intersections to town centers and casinos, Adami said.
7. “The campaign is a call to action for people in Wyoming to get tested and learn their status for HIV, STIs, and hepatitis,” Adami says.
KnoWyo’s digital ads alone generated 6,000 free testing vouchers last year (according to Google Analytics), Adami said, and the billboards will hopefully increase this number.
For more information on STI testing, check out the BuzzFeed Health guide to getting tested.