This month, the organizations planning and implementing HIV Vaccine Awareness Day are promoting these observances and expanding their reach by using traditional and new media tools.
National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV Awareness Day - May 19
According to the CDC, the number of Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) living with AIDS has climbed by more than 10 percent in each of the last five years. Sixty-seven percent of API men living with HIV/AIDS in 2005 were men who had sex with other men. Eighty percent of API women living with HIV/AIDS in 2005 were infected through heterosexual contact.
As the number of API living with, or at risk for, HIV grows, promoting this annual observance effectively becomes even more important. We spoke with Joseph Cavan, Media and Communications Coordinator for the Banyan Tree Project (BTP), to hear about how the BTP is using traditional and new media to promote materials and events for this day. BTP is using press statements, a website, and public service announcements (PSAs) with leading Asian and Pacific Islander celebrities, Joan Chen, James Kyson Lee, and Amy Hanaiali`i. The organization is also using new media tools (e.g., video-sharing directories and social networking sites) to expand the reach of their materials.
HIV Vaccine Awareness Day - May 18
Leaders promoting this day are using traditional and online media to encourage people to get involved in vaccine research. In addition to their TV and radio PSAs, the Be the Generation website offers many interactive tools that engage users--for example, "Community Voices videos, which will soon be added to the site, will offer stories about people who are working in HIV vaccine research. The website also has an HIV Vaccine Quiz.
To learn more about about using new media as part of the campaign, we spoke to A. Cornelius Baker, Project Director for the HIV Vaccine Research Education Initiative at the Academy for Educational Development's Center on AIDS and Community Health. He said, "We know new media is important, and it is very important to us that when we do engage new media, we do so in an appropriate way." He told us that his office is sensitive to the amount of mistrust that exists in the African American community when it comes to vaccine research. "We want to engage this community in an appropriate dialogue...but before we go that route, we must make sure that we have the resources to use new media tools effectively and appropriately."
Many of us are still exploring the intersection of traditional and new media. Our colleagues shared with us some of the lessons they have learned:
Joseph told us that, for last year's National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV Awareness Day, the BTP had developed a MySpace page for users to read about their program. Afterwards, they realized the potential of social networking sites—and also realized that taking advantage of that potential would mean a serious time commitment (i.e., having a dedicated team member to regularly maintain the BTP's MySpace page).
While not all of us have access to a professional studio like BTP does (or can get the country's leading high-profile talent!), there are inexpensive ways to create and promote videos online. YouTube has information about making and optimizing video for the Web and icyou, a video-sharing website that focuses exclusively on health content, also provides tools to upload videos for free.
The team managing the Be the Generation website realized the site needed to be 508 compliant for people with disabilities. Cornelius told us, "Be the Generation is fully accessible under Section 508, and audio and video have been enhanced to make sure that all users can learn as much as possible from the site."
Are you using new media to promote HIV/AIDS Awareness Days? Please share your stories with us!
Stay tuned for next week's discussion on gaming and health...