Social Networks

October 14, 2008


Reaching Latinos with New Media for National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

Podcast of this blog post  |  In Espanol

NLAAD logo

Tomorrow is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Exit Disclaimer (NLAAD). According to a recently released CDC fact sheet, Latinos represent only 15% of the total U.S. population, but make up 18% of new HIV infections. Among Latinos, men make up the vast majority of new HIV infections (76%), but Latino women are also at disproportionate risk for HIV. They are infected with HIV at a rate four times greater than white women.

In recognition of this important day, we’re continuing our conversation from last week by highlighting additional examples of using new media tools to reach the Latino community with HIV information.

Social Network Sites and Online Tools to Promote NLAAD

We first spoke with Liliana Rañón, Director of NLAAD at the Latino Commission on AIDS Exit Disclaimer (LCOA), the lead organization for NLAAD, who told us how LCOA is using new media to promote and organize NLAAD this year, including:

  1. To get the word out. NLAAD maintains a presence on several social network sites like Myspace Exit Disclaimer, Facebook Exit Disclaimer, and MTV Think Exit Disclaimer (a networking site run by MTV that allows organizations to have profiles focused on a particular issue). They use these social network sites to promote NLAAD events and to share information about HIV in the Latino community. NLAAD also uses televised and online public service announcements (PSAs) to get the word out.
  2. To stay connected. Liliana told us, “[social networking] allowed us to connect with lots of other AIDS organizations. The NLAAD website focuses on the U.S. while MySpace and Facebook have a more international perspective. It takes you out of the realm of what you already know and who you already know.”
NLAAD registration screenshot
  1. To put tools in the hands of the local organizations. Liliana reminded us that some of the simplest new media tools are the most meaningful to local community organizations. Online registration forms on the NLAAD website enable local agencies to promote their work, maintain and update their contact information, and keep the general public, news media, and other community partners up-to-date about their NLAAD activities. It was a reminder that it is not always about using the most high-tech new media tools, but about using a variety of appropriate tools to meet your audiences’ and partners’ needs!

New Media in Español

We next spoke with Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. Exit Disclaimer, Deputy Editor of POZ Exit Disclaimer, who shared some thoughts and resources on using new media to reach Latinos with HIV information. Oriol recently disclosed being HIV-positive in a feature article he wrote for the October issue Exit Disclaimer of POZ (the article is available in English Exit Disclaimer and Spanish Exit Disclaimer), and also began a blog Exit Disclaimer to continue the conversation on disclosure and stigma. Oriol told us that, “new media is an important component of any outreach strategy to any community. For younger people, new media increases from important to necessary. In particular, younger Latinos in the U.S. are just as Web savvy as any other young people.”

Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr.

Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr., Deputy Editor of POZ

Oriol highlighted the importance of providing audiences with information in the languages they are most comfortable using. A few of POZ’s Spanish-language new media resources include a blog Exit Disclaimer and podcast Exit Disclaimer. In addition, POZ has online Spanish-language information Exit Disclaimer including an AIDS service directory Exit Disclaimer, and TuSalud Exit Disclaimer, a wellness magazine for Latinos put out by Smart + Strong Exit Disclaimer.

When it comes to reaching Latinos online, Oriol recommends having, “as much Spanish-language content as possible. Even if the Latinos visiting your site are English-dominant, having the Spanish-language content indicates a welcoming environment. Also, the Spanish-language content should be easily accessible from the homepage. Promote your online content for Latinos in Spanish-language media if possible.” In keeping with Oriol’s suggestion, this week’s post is also available in Spanish.

Are you using new media to reach your audiences for NLAAD and beyond? If so, please share your stories with us!

September 16, 2008


"A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words"-- How to Increase Involvement in World AIDS Day 2008

Podcast of this blog post

“A picture is worth a thousand words” and today we will be talking about two different powerful pictures that relate to World AIDS Day--one which involves data, and the other which involves you.

Screen shot of Google Trends: HIV, AIDS

Picture # 1: The Trend

The picture above shows our search results from typing “AIDS” into Google Trends Exit Disclaimer (a tool that lets you see what words people are searching for on Google). Two key things caught our attention about this picture: 1) People are searching for the word “AIDS” most frequently around World AIDS Day (December 1st), and 2) for the last four years, there has been a steady decline in the number of people searching for this term.

As AIDS continues to take a devastating toll on people around the world and here at home, we must change this trend. We can't afford to be complacent. A few weeks ago, the CDC told us that the number of Americans who are newly infected with HIV each year is even worse than we thought. Because there is no cure for HIV and no vaccine to counter it, HIV prevention and testing remain two of our most powerful tools in the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

So, here's where picture #2 comes in....

Picture # 2: Changing the Trend

As many of you know, World AIDS Day is December 1st. This is a day for us to come together around HIV/AIDS--to remember, recognize, and take control of the future. But given the downward trend illustrated above, the subject of AIDS seems to be falling off peoples' radar.

The good news is that we know more and more people are going online and turning to their peers for health information. This is where YOU --providers, educators, caretakers, social media gurus and novices, colleagues, and friends--come in. We need your help to reduce the stigma around HIV/AIDS and encourage testing for World AIDS Day. In four easy steps, you can help create change.

Miguel Gomez
  1. Grab your cell phone or digital camera and take a picture of yourself wearing a red ribbon Exit Disclaimer--any red ribbon--cloth, paper, plastic, licorice, etc.--feel free to be creative!
  2. On December 1st--World AIDS Day--add the picture to your social networking profiles, blogs, other websites, etc. Leave the picture up for one week (until December 8th at midnight--no matter where you live).
  3. Add your picture to the World AIDS Day 08 Exit Disclaimer Flickr account! Not on Flickr? Flickr is an online photo management and sharing application. Signing up is fast, and allows you to post your picture to the group so we'll have an album of everyone who took action.
  4. Tell 10 friends to do the same.

Together we can remind people that HIV/AIDS is still a threat. Together we change the trend.

Between now and World AIDS Day, we'll blog about other exciting new media activities for you to get involved with....stay tuned!!!

Are you planning any new media activities for World AIDS Day? If so, please let us know about them and we can help spread the word.

Also, next week, will be hosting two different activities at the United States Conference on AIDS Exit Disclaimer (USCA), the nation's largest HIV/AIDS conference. USCA is run by the National Minority AIDS Council Exit Disclaimer--and it gives us an opportunity to meet with leaders in communities of color to talk about new media.

Our events will include:

Open Discussion Group on New Media (Friday, September 19, 6:45-7:45 PM, Room 302, Convention Center) We will discuss what new media is and how you can use it in your work on HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.

Workshop on HIV/AIDS Awareness Days (Saturday, September 20, 9:30-11:30 AM, Floridian A, Third Floor, Convention Center)--HIV/AIDS Awareness Days: A Turning Point Cross Promotion of the National HIV/AIDS Awareness Days: Where Are We Now? Where Can We Go? We will discuss how HIV/AIDS Awareness Days can be used to promote HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.

If you plan to attend USCA, please join us for the dialogue!

August 12, 2008


International AIDS Conference: New Media and the AIDS Community - Some Good News

Last week, we "twittered" Exit Disclaimer from the International AIDS Conference (IAC) Exit Disclaimer, and we planned to talk about that this week. We were struck, however, by our conversations on new media with IAC delegates and we decided to write about what we learned at the conference instead. (Stay tuned for more on Twitter soon!)

From the plenary Exit Disclaimer on the future of the global pandemic to's conversations with a cross-section of the 23,000+ IAC delegates in Mexico City, the topic of new media kept popping up. In that plenary session, Dr. Peter Piot Exit Disclaimer, director of UNAIDS Exit Disclaimer (and one of the leading voices in developing HIV/AIDS policy worldwide), acknowledged the importance of new media in meeting the challenge of HIV/AIDS. Dr. Piot explicitly mentioned Facebook and text messaging as important tools in carrying messages about HIV/AIDS--but he was one of the few who did.

“It is time that prevention programs embrace Facebook, texting, all the communication means, the new information technology that young people are using. It is not by billboards that we are going to introduce social change and personal behavior change on a large scale.” Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director, UNAIDS

At our poster session on, and in informal interviews throughout the weeklong conference, we asked people from all different sectors (government, community-based and faith-based organizations, the private sector, and academia) if, and how, they are using new media in response to HIV/AIDS. Their responses showed a common theme:

Everyone thinks using new media to offer HIV prevention, testing, and treatment messages is a great idea, but very few have made the leap to integrating new media consistently into their daily work or planning.
Photo of Miguel Gomez and Dr. Hazel Dean poster session: Miguel Gomez, Director of, and Dr. Hazel Dean, Deputy Director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

For those who said they were working on new media initiatives, they recognized that work as a priority. Several organizations, including amfAR Exit Disclaimer and GMHC Exit Disclaimer, were planning rollouts or redesigns of their websites in the near future.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Exit Disclaimer was the major new media presence at the conference. KFF provided webcasts Exit Disclaimer for all of the major IAC sessions, as well as interviews with many of the most prominent policymakers and activists in the AIDS community.

There were plenty of bloggers at the conference. Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) Exit Disclaimer sponsored Exit Disclaimer, an independent community resource for the 2008 IAC, which included blogs Exit Disclaimer from many conference attendees. In addition, a Google blog search Exit Disclaimer yields over 60,000 mentions of the IAC.

Despite these high-profile new media efforts, however, almost everyone we talked to stressed that the use of new media in response to HIV/AIDS is in its infancy. The overwhelming consensus of the delegates was that the AIDS community lags behind in using new media, and that we need to catch up and learn how to use new media tools quickly.

There was a lot of interest in new media from many of those on the front lines. The team attended a fascinating session titled Reaching Millions--Youth, AIDS, and the Digital Age. The panelists were all young AIDS activists who are using the Internet and cell phones to reach and support young people at risk for, or living with, HIV/AIDS in some of the world’s most affected regions.

All of the interest generated by these sessions, and the enthusiastic response to our interviews, led us to believe that there is a need for a conference on AIDS and New Media. Stay tuned as we attempt to make it happen!

June 17, 2008


20 students. 6 universities. 8 short videos. 1 cause. National HIV Testing Day Personal Public Service Announcements

Photo of Dr. Kevin Fenton with a PPSA participant

Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention , with a PPSA participant

To help get the word out about National HIV Testing Day (June 27), the CDC and the University of Georgia’s New Media Institute Exit Disclaimer collaborated on an innovative new media project. More than 20 students from six universities and five AIDS organizations hit the streets with video cameras this April to produce eight short video messages Exit Disclaimer encouraging young people to be tested for HIV.

To learn more about this project, we spoke with Dr. Scott Shamp Exit Disclaimer, a professor at the University of Georgia and the director of the New Media Institute Exit Disclaimer, and with our CDC colleague Jackie Rosenthal.

What are Personal PSAs?

Public service announcements Exit Disclaimer have become a mainstay in public health efforts. What differentiates personal PSAs from traditional ones, is that in addition to being user-generated, they are shared via cell phones and social network sites Exit Disclaimer, like YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook.

Why Personal PSAs?

Rosenthal stated, “We know that there are millions of young people who consume media differently today. They are more in tune with colleagues and the world via personal communication devices such as cell phones. We started to research the role of cell phones and other mobile media devices, and how these assets can play a part in enhancing people’s lives.”

Photo of Dr. Scott Shamp

Dr. Scott Shamp, University of Georgia's New Media Institute

Dr. Shamp continued, “There is a new generation of creative individuals who can create a lot of cool things that resonate with various target audiences with very little technology.” And a cell phone allows people to send these messages friend-to-friend, colleague-to-colleague.

Creating the PPSAs

Each PPSA took a different approach to communicate the same message - HIV testing is quick, simple, painless, and VERY important.

We asked Dr. Shamp to tell us about how the PPSAs were developed. He told us that, after spending one day learning about HIV/AIDS, testing and surveillance, the students were then put into small groups and tasked with coming up with ideas for their short videos. On the second day, an expert panel approved their concepts and the groups hit the pavement with inexpensive video cameras to turn their concepts into actual video footage. On the evening of the second day, they showed the final products to all the students and project partners. “It was really exciting,” said Dr. Shamp.

The PPSA team credits two major components for bringing this project together and executing it successfully: creativity and cooperation. This endeavor required a group of partners like CDC and Verizon Wireless. Dr. Shamp stated, “It also relied heavily on crazily brave individuals to take on the production, and students and faculty, whom we call intrepid innovators, to help us carry this out from inception to completion.”

Tune in!

In anticipation of National HIV Testing Day, the PPSAs will be available on CDC’s YouTube channel Exit Disclaimer and MySpace Page Exit Disclaimer. We also encourage you to embed the video(s) Exit Disclaimer on your Web site or blog in support and observance of National HIV Testing Day.

For more information, visit the Univerisity of Georgia’s New Media Institute website Exit Disclaimer.

June 10, 2008


We Are Living in a Virtual World: Part 1

When the team first started hearing about virtual worlds, we were intrigued--and a little confused. Terms like “avatar Exit Disclaimer” and “in-world meetings” were unfamiliar. Places like Second Life Exit Disclaimer, Whyville Exit Disclaimer, Club Penguin Exit Disclaimer, and Habbo Exit Disclaimer seemed mysterious.

Screen shot of HealthInfo Island on Second Life

HealthInfo Island on Second Life

NIH, CDC, and NASA have been Federal pioneers in virtual space. To learn more, we spoke to Erin Edgerton at the CDC; Andrew Hoppin, from CoLab at NASA; and Lori Bell and Carol Perryman from HealthInfo Island on Second Life--an NIH-funded project.

Our colleagues told us that virtual worlds are computer-based simulated environments Exit Disclaimer where you create your own character--or avatar.

Virtual worlds look and feel like playing a video game, but unlike a video game, you don’t win or lose. They’re places you inhabit and interact with others.

Participation in virtual worlds is increasing at an average of 15 percent per month, according to the Gartner Group Exit Disclaimer. By 2011, they estimate that 80 percent of Internet users will take part in virtual worlds.

How can we use virtual worlds to improve public health?

Screenshot of AIDS and HIV Center on Second Life

AIDS and HIV Center on Second Life

Virtual worlds can provide an immersive experience where users can get health information and practice healthy behaviors. Modeling good health behaviors in the virtual world can help turn these virtual activities into real-life behaviors.

Carol told us, “At NIH we discovered that consumer health information was one of the most important services we could provide in the virtual world. As more and more people of all ages use the Internet and spend increasing amounts of time online, we want to reach users where they are.” There are a number of medical agencies in Second Life, including professional organizations that are looking at it for training purposes, medical libraries, and support groups for people with medical problems (e.g., HIV/AIDS, Asperger’s Syndrome).

Andrew told us that NASA became interested in virtual worlds because they were looking for a space to collaborate with entrepreneurs, volunteers, and students. Once they began participating in Second Life, NASA discovered new uses for this virtual world: training, virtual prototyping, and building new partnerships. Andrew told us that, in a typical week, over 700 people visit NASA’s space in Second Life and spend approximately 650 hours per week interacting in the virtual NASA.

Screen shot of Virtual vaccinations in Whyville

Virtual vaccinations in Whyville

For two consecutive years, CDC has worked with Whyville to promote virtual vaccinations for seasonal influenza. Erin told us the CDC selected Whyville to encourage flu vaccinations “because it focused on science and education, and because of its previous research on in-world vaccinations.” Whyville citizens had the opportunity to be virtually vaccinated--preventing them from catching the “Why-Flu,” which caused red spots to appear on avatars’ faces and made them sneeze while chatting. During the first six-week activity in 2006, almost 20,000 unique Whyvillians were vaccinated.

Virtual worlds, like Whyville, aren’t just for young people. When the CDC introduced the Why-Flu, for the second time, in November 2007, they created opportunities to engage people of different generations. Once Whyville members were vaccinated, they could send invitations to their grandparents, inviting them to be virtually vaccinated. This resulted in nearly 41,000 virtual vaccinations, and over 1,800 grandparents participated.

Another addition to the 2007 activity was a two-way information exchange between CDC subject-matter experts and Whyvillians. At an in-world vaccination party, kids and grandparents talked with a live CDC expert to get answers to health questions and learn more about the CDC.

Venturing Deeper into Virtual Worlds

On July 1, we’ll finish the second part of this two-part series on virtual worlds. For the next two weeks, however, we’ll be focusing our blog posts on National HIV Testing Day (June 27) Exit Disclaimer.

In the meantime, we encourage you to spend some time in a virtual world. It is easy to sign up for a free account in Second Life, Whyville, Club Penguin, or Habbo. Each offers a unique experience and the best way to learn about these worlds is to jump in!

Hope to see you there!

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