To bring you Awareness Day planning tips, we recently talked with Luis A. Mares, LMSW, Director of Community Mobilization for the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA), about his work for the national HIV observances.
HIV.gov: What national HIV observances does the Commission lead, organize, and plan for each year?
Luis: We have three Awareness Days: National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD - October 15), National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (NHHAD - May 15), and our newly established National Hispanic Cancer Awareness Day (NHCAD - September 15). The first two Awareness Days were established by the Latino Commission on AIDS, and the latter was established by our sister organization, the Hispanic Health Network. The Latino Commission also observes and plans for other national HIV Awareness Days because our Latino/Hispanic communities identify and belong to many other subpopulations at risk for, and impacted by, HIV.
HIV.gov: Can you tell us how social media and digital communication fit into your plans?
Luis: Through social media, we are always trying to increase engagement and to reach the greatest number of people and organizations with our messages of awareness about HIV and hepatitis in the Latino community.
For NLAAD and NHHAD, we have dedicated accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. These accounts enable us to disseminate health information and promote information-sharing to encourage behavioral changes. Through those channels, we offer information on testing, as well as on preventive techniques for HIV and hepatitis; these are the main components for our social messaging around NLAAD and NHHAD.
Through Facebook and Twitter, we reach a wider diversity of ages and people. At the same time, these platforms provide us with the capacity to filter the population to the type of users we want to reach (Latino community, LGBT community, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis organizations, health-related pages, etc.). These are important factors that we consider when choosing which platform to use for each of our Awareness-Day-related communications.
We have also organized Twitter chats to support our Awareness Day communications. The Twitter chat option provides us with the opportunity to interact with several partners and organizations at the same time, hence increasing our social media outreach.
HIV.gov:Any other reflections on Awareness Day planning?
Luis: Social media is an important tool that we use to do outreach, share information, and create awareness—but we need to keep our accounts and messages active and consistent according to the best use of each platform. We have to choose carefully the platforms that best suit our message. This can become a little challenging at times because of the time-consuming nature of the activity, but, ultimately, the effort contributes to reaching our goal of creating awareness of HIV and hepatitis in the Latino community.
HIV.gov: As we approach NLAAD and NHHAD, can you remind our readers of the hashtags to use?
Luis: This year, we encourage use of these easy-to-remember hashtags: For National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day, we will be using #NHHAD2019 and #HispanicHepatitis2019. For National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, we will use #NLAAD2019 and #LatinoAIDSAwarenessDay2019.
HIV.gov: Thank you, Luis. We’ll close with a reminder to visit the HIV.gov Awareness Day section to learn more about these observances.