Highlights from the 2009 U.S. Conference on AIDS
Co-authored by Jennie Anderson, Josie Halpern-Finnerty, and Michelle Samplin-Salgado
We just got back from the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA)Exit Disclaimer, sponsored by the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC)Exit Disclaimer, and are feeling very energized. There were several themes and key messages that we took away from the conference. The opening plenary, “Transgender People and HIV: Our Time Has Come!” emphasized the importance of better understanding our audiences, specifically the transgender community. We also continued to hear that we need to improve our capacity and reach. And this year there was a new emerging theme - that of new media’s role in the response to HIV. Case in point - at last year’s USCA in Florida, we had seven people attend our new media workshops. This year we had over 150 participants!
Many of you at USCA told us that you’re assessing how you can use new media in response to HIV. For example, Jeffrey Campbell from St. Hope FoundationExit Disclaimer in Houston told us how he is using text messaging to promote their educational and social events, primarily to African American men who have sex with men (MSM). And Kendel Powers from RAIN OklahomaExit Disclaimer told us how they have used MySpace, Twitter, and Facbook to recruit volunteers and bring in new clients for care and treatment. It’s an exciting time for our HIV community and it’s an exciting time for new media. Because of new media, we were able to watch the President sign the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 at the conference.
NMAC also embraced new media tools more than ever for this year’s USCA. Not only did they blog, they also used TwitterExit Disclaimer, posted photos, and will post videos next week. And they supported several new media sessions and our day-long HIV.gov new media institute which had beginner and experienced user tracks. In the afternoon both tracks came together to hear from a panel of new media experts including: Ian Anderson from POZExit Disclaimer, Allegra Madsen from ISIS Inc, Murray Penner from NASTADExit Disclaimer, Bonnie Goldman from TheBody.com, and Erik Ireland, a podcaster for the SF AIDS FoundationExit Disclaimer. During our panel we also had a demo of AIDSspace. We’ve posted our slides from the institutes and a presentation we gave on slideshare.
Throughout the conference we also heard that some folks are still getting familiar with new media tools and are trying to understand how best to use them to meet their audiences’ needs. After the opening plenary, UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender HIV PreventionExit Disclaimer told us, “In the transgender community, we’re using texting and other new media tools in our personal lives and it’s time now for us to adapt these tools in our work and response to HIV and AIDS.” Christopher Bates, HHS’ Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy, also reinforced this statement in his closing remarks at the conference saying how important it is to use new media to expand the reach of our HIV programs. We look forward to seeing how the HIV community continues to adapt and adopt new media this year.
Thank you to:
- The hundreds of you who stopped by our HIV.gov Facing AIDS photo booth to share your personal messages about why you are helping to Face AIDS for World AIDS Day. We’ll soon post photos from the booth. Speaking of World AIDS Day, we hope you’ll join us on November 17th for Federal World AIDS Day Conference Call. Register now to hear from and ask questions of leadership across HHS.
- All of you who participated in our focus groups and usability testing about our new website.
- NMAC, in particular Circe LeCompte and Paul Kawata for putting on such a powerful conference and for helping to support our HIV.gov activities.
- All of you working so hard to address HIV and AIDS in your communities—USCA brought together many voices from across the country who are working so hard to address this epidemic.