Last week we attended the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA), sponsored by the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC). USCA is the largest AIDS-related gathering in the U.S. Three-thousand people came together to share information, create new networks, and learn about the latest tools being used to address the challenges of HIV/AIDS. Conference participants included healthcare and service providers, advocates, people living with HIV/AIDS, and policymakers. The theme of the conference was “Looking Back, Moving Forward.”
New Media at USCA
Our time at USCA was spent looking forward to a future where new media will be a standard part of HIV messaging--but we aren’t there yet. Below, we highlight some examples of how our colleagues are using new media to reach target populations at risk for HIV/AIDS:
- The USCA conference opened with the Soy (I am) project, a joint venture between Univision and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Soy tells the stories of individual Latinos living with HIV/AIDS. The project debuts just in time for National Latino AIDS Awareness Day of USCA’s opening session.
- Thomas Henning, from Cable Positive, discussed how nonprofits can use new media to reach new clients. He discussed how to find free or inexpensive resources to help with using new media tools and highlighted Cable Positive’s popular, rights-free, public service announcements.
- The Northwest AIDS Education and Training Center (NAETC) offered a workshop entitled Employing Innovative Technology in HIV Clinical Training for Underserved Communities. NAETC has a useful website that provides case-based modules on HIV/AIDS diagnosis and treatment for minority and minority-serving health care providers.
- The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center presented on a new web series, In The Moment, that follows a group of gay men living in Los Angeles and chronicles their decision-making around sexual health.
Roundtables and Discussions
- Miguel Chion and Monica Nuño of Accion Mutua, a joint program of AIDS Project Los Angeles and the CÃ©sar E. ChÃ¡vez Institute, offered a roundtable on how to use webinars to reach communities with HIV prevention, testing, and treatment messages.
- HIV.gov sponsored a discussion group entitled “Let’s Talk About New Media.” Participants echoed what we heard at the International AIDS Conference and from others at USCA: our target audiences are using the Web to find health information and make healthcare decisions.
Other New Media
- amFar and POZ are producing videos for their webpages, and YouTube carries a video by POZ on Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Days.
- NMAC twittered from the conference. (To learn more about Twitter, see this post.)
As we did in Mexico City, the HIV.gov team did informal interviews with USCA participants about their use of new media. The consensus among our colleagues was that people are starting to incorporate new media into their work, but the challenges are real and there is plenty of room for improvement.
Doug Weinbrenner, from Good Samaritan Services in Kansas City told us: “We are just skimming the surface of what we can do.”
Susan Cohen, director of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center’s Department of Health Education and Prevention, and part of the team that produces In The Moment, said “We are continuously learning from our audience about how to plan for this new environment. That means considering everything from what to do when the computers start crashing to asking ourselves hard questions, like ‘Are we serving our audience?’” She also said, “The HIV community needs to assess the utilization of new media. Our target audiences are using these tools and we have to meet them where they are.”
Monica Nuño told us, “So many of those we work to reach use technology in their social lives. We use technology tools in our work to bridge the gap between home and work, bring information to people, and make it interactive. We have to meet providers where they are and make our information available on the platforms they use.”
Gustavo Aldolfo Morales Correa with Entre Amigos told us: “We’ve been engaging clients on MySpace in Puerto Rico for several years, but we know we have to step up our game. Our clients began by networking through us, but they quickly developed independent social networks—we have to reconsider how to engage with them.”
Our colleagues (AIDS service organizations, health leaders, and national HIV advocates) told us they wanted technical assistance on how to use, evaluate, and work collaboratively on new media. They also told us they want more opportunities to TALK about using new media - and how we can challenge our communities to use these tools, as appropriate.
What are you doing to make your HIV/AIDS information and resources available through new media? Please share you stories, successes, and challenges with us!