GSK adds Karamo Brown of 'Queer Eye' to its list of celebs spreading the word about PrEP

GSK’s ViiV Healthcare has been harnessing the power of culture, entertainment and creativity to reach and engage its audience for years. Its latest offerings in the PrEP field continue in that vein.

“Queer Eye” culture expert Karamo Brown, who is launching his own daytime TV show next month, takes this same casual talk-show format to a panel of real-world PrEP users to talk about, not only the pharma’s long-lasting PrEP, Apretude and other PrEP options, but also feeling sexy and enjoying life. This lighter, more conversational tone is key to keeping viewers engaged, Marc Meachem, head of U.S. External Affairs at ViiV Healthcare said.

“Those things are built on the insights we've had from engaging with people living with HIV and people at risk of HIV," Meachem explained. "There are multiple elements to it, so sex positivity is one of those elements and we've found that having an open-ranging conversation that people find relatable and isn't just the science or statistics is a way that we've seen it be very effective to pull people in to a discussion as opposed to having a more didactic discussion of just statistics.”

ViiV markets Apretude as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) that is licensed to help reduce their risk of sexually-acquired HIV. 

This new campaign, which launched mid-June, follows on from the unbranded "Me In You, You In Me”, campaign, launched in May which emphasizes the importance of PrEP, not just for users, but also for friends, family, everyone. The idea is to reach out to a wider community so they too have it on their radar to pass on the knowledge, if necessary, to someone who might need to know about the huge advances in HIV prevention and care.

The tone here is a bit more serious, but still warm and personal with the celebrities paired off with someone they don’t know (they aren’t told who they are speaking with) to talk about issues around HIV prevention. After the talk, their partner is revealed. The campaign features celebrities both directly in the HIV and queer community and out, including fashion designer and Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles-Lawson, sports analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose, actor, comedian and activist, Kalen Allen, photographer Juan Veloz, TikTok influencer and activist, Ve’ondre Mitchell and model and sex worker, Reno Gold.

ViiV is also continuing its very successful “Being Seen” podcast, currently in its third season as well as a new podcast “Love In Gravity” which is a collection of fictionalized stories aimed at the gay and queer Latinx and Afro-Latinx community.

While the short-term goal is to educate through entertainment, the long-term goal is of course, the eradication of HIV altogether.

“The goal is to end the HIV epidemic in America and globally. I think in order to do that it's a whole society approach and we have to get people involved in the discussions around getting ahead of disease together. Talking about the issues that get in the way. It’s about educating people, the issues that get away about people accessing HIV prevention and treatment, raising a level of awareness and expanding the dialogue,” Meachem said.

ViiV isn’t just saying pretty words about ending the epidemic, the pharma is putting its money where its mouth is — literally, by allowing Apretude to join a patent-sharing program just seven months into the FDA’s approval of the long-acting PrEP. The deal allows the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and selected generics manufacturers the rights to make and supply generics of Apretude for 90 poorer countries.