Millennials and Social Media: Engaging, Mobilizing, and Learning for HIV Outreach

Content From: Pavni Guharoy, Communications Director, AIDS.govPublished: December 16, 20144 min read



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 50,000 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year. Of those, one in four (26%) is 13-24 years old. In 2012, the highest rate of new diagnoses of HIV infection occurred among people aged 20–24 years. In response to these rates, government agencies, youth-focused community organizations, and youth advocates are finding innovative outreach methods to engage young people about their HIV risk.

Today we are spotlighting four initiatives that prioritize youth engagement and work to empower youth. Each initiative is leveraging social media tools to amplify youth voices, as well as to showcase the ways in which millennials are uniting in their efforts to create an AIDS-free generation.

National Minority AIDS Council: Youth Scholar Program

Each year, the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC)Exit Disclaimer assembles a group of Youth Scholars by recruiting advocates from across the U.S. to represent the voices of young people in the epidemic. NMAC provides the Scholars a platform to learn about policies, other HIV programs, and leadership.

At NMAC’s annual U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA 2014), offered a pre-conference workshop entitled “Utilizing Social Media” during the NMAC Youth Scholar orientation. The session offered an opportunity for to learn from, and interact with, over 20 Youth Scholars who are working as community advocates for local HIV organizations, or who are self-made local advocates working to mobilize communities across the nation through their personal networks. As an added highlight, we welcomed one of the NMAC Youth Scholars, Kahlib Barton, as our newest blogger for the Black Voices Blog.

Kaiser Family Foundation: Greater Than AIDS #speakoutHIV

This fall, the the Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) Greater Than AIDSExit Disclaimer campaign launched #SpeakOutHIV Exit Disclaimer - a visual storytelling project featuring the personal experiences of 25 young gay and bisexual men who are age 25 and younger (approximately one-third are HIV-positive). “Despite the continued impact of HIV, gay and bisexual men are not talking about HIV even with those closest to them,” noted Tina Hoff, KFF’s Senior Vice President and Director of Health Communication and Media Partnerships. “#SpeakOutHIV is about promoting a more open dialogue about HIV in all aspects of life, in relationships, with healthcare providers, and within the community generally.”

#SpeakOutHIV challenges people to post their own stories about HIV on YouTube and share through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms as part of a collective effort to promote more open discussion about the issue.

Viiv Healthcare Youth Summit #YouthHIVManifesto

It is a sign of the times that in its 16th year, the ViiV Annual Community SummitExit Disclaimer expanded its focus to host its first Youth SummitExit Disclaimer. Held during the weekend of October 24-25, the Viiv Youth Summit featured young community leaders like Lawrence Stallworth II, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, as well as two Black Voices bloggers - Patrick Ingram, and Anthony Roberts, Jr. You can read and watch a video on Anthony’s blog from the Viiv Summit, where he shares lessons he learned from his new mentor, Mr. Jeff Berry. The day’s workshops focused on outreach strategies, utilizing social media, using digital storytelling, and preparing appropriate audience-centric messages.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Act Against AIDS

Launched in 2009, Act Against AIDS (AAA) is a five-year national campaign launched by CDC and the White House to combat complacency about HIV and AIDS in the United States. Act Against AIDS focuses on raising awareness among all Americans and reducing the risk of infection among the hardest-hit populations – gay and bisexual men, African Americans, Latinos, and other communities at increased risk. Act Against AIDS consists of several concurrent HIV-prevention campaigns and uses mass media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet) to deliver important HIV prevention messages.

At we continue to engage with, and learn from, organizations and youth advocates who are using social media to drive change to curb the epidemic in their own communities. Subscribe to the Blog so you can stay abreast of more updates on youth initiatives. Share with us what youth in your community are doing to be HIV advocates.