« Second Life (Part 2 of "We Are Living in a Virtual World") | Main | Blogging about Blogs (Part 2 on Blogging) »

July 08, 2008


We're 6 Months Old: Part 1 on Blogging

Photo of Birthday cake with a six on it

Photo by Sharyn Morrow Exit Disclaimer

Photo of Alan Gambrell

Alan Gambrell, AIDS.gov Planning Committee member and consultant with HRSA

We started this blog six months ago.

Three months ago we reflected on whether the blog was working and we decided to continue. We declared that we’d continue blogging only as long as we could clearly define how best to measure our success.

Recently one of our colleagues, Alan Gambrell, asked us if we thought the blog was a success. Alan, a consultant with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is an AIDS.gov Planning Committee member and is helping the HRSA staff plan the upcoming Ryan White Program Grantee Meeting Exit Disclaimer. HRSA has invited Miguel Gomez, director of AIDS.gov, to speak on the role of new media at the conference. Alan’s questions were very similar to the ones we’ve been asking ourselves, so we’d like to use this week's blog post to share our responses with you.

Do you consider the blog a success?

We had to take a step back and ask ourselves, “Are we helping our target community?” We are funded by the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) to augment the capacity of minority communities in their response to HIV/AIDS. Specifically, we are charged with increasing HIV testing and linkages to treatment and care services for those at greatest risk for HIV.

Photo of Miguel Gomez

Miguel Gomez, Director of AIDS.gov

“We declared that we’d continue blogging only as long as we could clearly define how best to measure our success.”

We needed to recognize that this target audience is already using and depending on new media tools 24/7. They are already using the Web, social networks, podcasts, and blogs to get HIV-related health information, and they are making health decisions based on what they learn. Their families, friends, and caregivers are doing the same thing. So we have to meet them where they are.

So when we ask ourselves “Are we successful? Are we reaching our target community and the goals of the MAI?”, we believe the answer is “Yes.” It is enough? No--but we are proud that through the blog: 1) we’re helping our MAI colleagues and others better understand how to use new media tools to reach their clients in the ways they want to be reached; 2) we are one of very few voices about new media in the fight against HIV/AIDS that also highlights minority new media leaders and; 3) we currently have more requests than we can manage to provide basic new media training to our Federal and non-Federal partners.

These are bold statements!

They are bold, but I have three reasons to feel so strongly that we are meeting the need.

First, thanks to the privilege of managing AIDS.gov, I communicate regularly with the lead Federal program managers and their staff who handle more than $18 billion spent on HIV domestically, as well as with state and local health officials managing HIV programs, people living with HIV/AIDS, and those providing HIV services. They all tell me that we need to dramatically increase our understanding of these new media tools and implement them where appropriate.

Second, on all levels, there are limited concrete plans to do this.

And third, on a positive note, this blog has helped me see the emerging potential of new media and its public health applications. I’ve heard wonderful stories about successful use of these tools from a diversity of sources, including our colleagues at the New Mexico AIDS Services (MySpace page Exit Disclaimer), the San Francisco Department of Public Health (text messaging services Exit Disclaimer), the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (podcasts Exit Disclaimer), and the CDC (National HIV Testing Day Personal PSA project), just to name a few!

How do you ensure that the information on this blog is accurate?

Each week we speak to new media experts to ensure that our messages are accurate. We check in with AIDS service providers to ground assertions by the AIDS.gov team and the experts we talk to. We continue to evaluate what we’re doing and that this blog is meeting an unmet need.

What’s next?

We will continue to blog about new media. We will continue to reach out to AIDS service providers and new media experts so that we can grow and learn along with our readers. And we will continue to respond to comments and to contribute to the conversation on using new media to fight HIV/AIDS.

We’re inspired by Secretary Mike Leavitt’s blog, which is also intended to foster public discussion. He says, “The blog is intended to be a dynamic online conversation [about health and the related challenges that face the nation].” We hope to do the same for new media and HIV/AIDS.

And we are inspired by our readers and contributors. Our goal is to better define our progress by answering the question we always ask ourselves: “How has this blog motivated others to engage in a dialogue on new media and HIV/AIDS?”

So, if you’re a reader/blogger/AIDS service provider -- please let us know how we’re doing. How can we do more? What advice can you give us?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference We're 6 Months Old: Part 1 on Blogging:


Congratulations on your blog - it is undoubtedly of great service to your readers, and you are to be commended for your efforts.

I have been blogging now for 2 years and I know how frustrating it can be, in terms of understanding how well you are reaching your target audience, and of what benefit your blog is to them. Perhaps you could encourage audience participation by adding a poll(s) to your blog. You could also write a monthly newsletter that your readers subscribe by email to - if nothing else you will be able to gauge the level of interest.

Hope this helps and good luck.

I appreciate the "6 Months" review. It was quite good and well written. It does seem to focus more on what you have done with regard to care providers more so than on prevention or research efforts, which you might want to address in a future blog. For the 1 year anniversary, you might want to chart out increases in traffic, as well as do an index of topics. Also, how do you know the folks going to your site are part of the target populuation for the MAI and not just general service providers?

I have enjoyed the merging of new media advances and application to the health world, especially since that is what I mainly write about as well. I appreciate the honesty with this 6 month review and would agree that prevention efforts as well as any local events.

Happy 6-month anniversary! While you're at the Ryan White Program Grantee Meeting please check out my touring exhibit of photographic portraits and stories of Americans living with HIV and AIDS. To learn more about this project, please visit: http://www.focusonliving.org/.

Thanks Roslyn, We're familiar with your inspiring book - and look forward to seeing your exhibit next month!

Congrats on your six-month anniversary! Your hard work is definitely being appreciated, needed and is a great resource in the HIV/AIDS movement.

Thank you!

> So, if you’re a reader/blogger/AIDS service provider --
> please let us know how we’re doing.
> How can we do more?
> What advice can you give us?

Encourage more and more participants including the most outrageous points of views. Avoid censoring disagreeable opinions. The idea being to bring out those uncomfortable notions and develop better responses to get proponents to think more deeply about their notions. Sidelining alienates. It's a good thing to encourage participation even where there's wrongheadedness because we can learn from that how to develop better responses.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Add to Technorati Favorites

AIDS.gov blog syndicated content powered by: FeedBurner