In our continuing series on the HIV.gov microgrant awardees, today we feature four programs reaching several very specific groups: Hispanic immigrants, rural Alaskans, and formerly incarcerated young adults.
Reaching Hispanic Immigrants
As many of us observe National Latino AIDS Awareness Day on October 15, we are particularly aware that Hispanics are some of the most highly affected and at-risk populations of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance: Stop and Think/Espera y Piensa’s project is a bilingual campaign with four key messages: “HIV/AIDS Exists among Latinos”, “Protect Yourself”, “Support People Living with HIV/AIDS” and “Know Your Status.” The project uses Facebook, the MIRA web site, radio segments and text messaging to reach Latinos in Mississippi between the ages of 18 and 35. MIRA credits the campaign with a 20% increase in web traffic and a 56% increase in its Facebook page users. Staff also noted “greater rapport with the young Latino community.” Amanda Blackwell, MIRA’s Development Director, reported that “the campaign was an excellent experience for MIRA staff, volunteers and constituents.”
The Rural Women’s Health Project (RWHP): The VIA Initiative (Voices of Immigrants in Action) New Media for HIV/AIDS Awareness and Social Mobilization project promotes dialog between more than 50 project partners and Hispanic immigrants in Florida and Tennessee. The VIA Initiative created a blog to provide a communication forum for grassroots organizations and providers to collect and share information about HIV/AIDS within Hispanic immigrant communities. RWHP found blogging to be “an excellent strategy to inform partners, share multimedia and create a concept behind HIV advocacy and prevention…This truly has been another step in our struggle to share the dreams, hopes, barriers and approaches that are central to the Hispanic immigrants as they acculturate into this society and how HIV/AIDS is the common thread for many of us working in this community.”
Reaching Rural Alaskans
The Interior AIDS Association (IAA) wanted to expand its prevention efforts with rural youth in Alaska. The project team began to use Facebook and Twitter, started a blog, and developed new media outreach guidelines and a sustainability plan, among other internal resources. Tying their Facebook efforts to promote HIV testing around National HIV Testing Day, the agency saw a modest increase in HIV tests conducted. IAA staff found that they can indeed support staff time for Facebook use. It’s exciting to hear that IAA says “Having entered into the social media venue, we plan to stay. We will continue to learn and refine our approach to engage target audiences and increase community awareness of HIV and HIV prevention.”
Reaching the Formerly Incarcerated
Center for Health Justice: The Freedom Club Initiative wanted to reach post-incarcerated gay, bisexual and non-gay identified MSM young adults between the ages of 18-29 in Los Angeles County. The project is developing a network (including a website and blog) to enable these adults to address health and social needs necessary to reduce their HIV risk, and to advocate for their issues. The Center developed a group of members who work together to facilitate the groups, obtain materials for the blog, strategize messaging, and identify other members. Project staff held trainings on establishing an email account, text messaging, and facilitated discussions on the uses of technology and communication channels for reducing HIV infections. The Center has permission to recruit members and obtain stories and artwork from individuals currently incarcerated locally, who, upon release, will continue to participate in the group and attend sponsored activities. The Center learned that their “service population has even more barriers to overcome than...originally anticipated.” Their “project focus has been reinforced,” and the Center “plans to continue the blog, enhance it, add to it, and make it an integral part of...website and activities.”
If you are using new media to advance HIV prevention, care, and treatment among highly defined populations, what have you learned that might be unique to the people you are focused on?