Last week, 1,000 people from the fields of public health, social marketing, health communication, health education, and other fields gathered in Atlanta for the CDC’s 2nd Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media. Miguel Gomez, HIV.gov Director, and Jennie Anderson, HIV.gov Communications Director, attended the conference. We also participated in a panel called “Social Networks and Online Resources for Health Professionals” and shared the lessons we’ve learned from this blog.
The conference provided the HIV.gov team with multiple perspectives on how public health leaders are using health communication and media tools (both old and “new”) to respond to public issues (including HIV/AIDS). The conference covered a wide range of topics, including the culture of poverty, peer-to-peer communications, media coverage, and evaluation and Web metrics.
We were pleased to hear about several HIV/AIDS-focused resources, including:
- Positive Health Project—provides health and prevention services designed for people at highest risk for, or living with, HIV (e.g., substance abusers, sex workers, the homeless)
- STD Prevention Online.org—an online social networking site for HIV providers and sexual health providers from the Internet and STD Center of Excellence
- Student-generated public service announcements on HIV testing—a collaborative project of the CDC and the University of Georgia. Check out our past blog post about this!
Presenters also shared many resources which can help us better understand new media tools. Several of these resources included:
- Mobile Access to Data and Information—from The Pew Internet and American Life Project (March 2008)
- Google Trends—provides the average worldwide traffic of a particular search term (e.g. "HIV") or a comparison of multiple terms (e.g. "HIV" vs "AIDS")
- The Digital Opportunity: Using New Media For Public Education Campaigns—from the Ad Council and Kaiser Family Foundation (2007)
- Online Health Search 2006—from The Pew Internet and American Life Project (October 2006)
- Osocio—“Social advertising and nonprofit campaigns from around the globe“
We enjoyed meeting (and in some cases reconnecting) with many of our CDC colleagues, along with many others, including Ben Heywood from PatientsLikeMe from the Harvard School of Public Health, Nedra Weinreich from Weinreich Communications and author of Spare Change, Michael Ruppal from The AIDS Institute, and many others. Many of our relationships in new media are virtual, so it’s always nice to put a face with a name—and replace the ubiquitous :) with a real smile!
During the closing plenary, Sandra Thurman, President and CEO of International AIDS Trust, talked about the importance of adding “Listen” and “Learn” into the conference’s theme (“Engage and Deliver”). She referenced the recent release of the new CDC HIV incidence data and noted that we could have addressed this earlier if we had listened to and learned from some of the communities hardest hit by the epidemic—men who have sex with men and African Americans. Sandra also stressed the importance of working across disciplines, forming private and public partnership, spending time in the communities we are trying to reach, and most importantly, “keeping a passion for doing what we do.”
Speaking of passion - we’ve received lots of comments on our post about the new HIV incidence data being a “wake-up” call. To all our commentors, thank you! We’re thrilled to have this dialogue - and look forward to hearing more from you in the days and weeks to come.