Organizations turn to social for HIV/AIDS awareness

WASHINGTON: Nonprofit and governmental organizations are winding up social media-heavy campaigns to promote HIV/AIDS awareness during the week of World AIDS Day.

WASHINGTON: Nonprofit and governmental organizations are winding up social media-heavy campaigns to promote HIV/AIDS awareness during the week of World AIDS Day.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation will conclude an experimental campaign to educate consumers and raise money for HIV/AIDS awareness on Friday. The effort requested that consumers text to a specific number to donate $10 and retweet statistics about HIV and AIDS – both firsts for the organization.

Lori Yeghiayan, associate director of communications at the group, said traditional media relations tools have proven successful for the agency, but it realized that it had to “evolve with the times.”

“We saw a missed opportunity to educate people,” she said.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation hoped that by embracing new platforms with the campaign, it could empower consumers to take action not offered to them through traditional media outreach, added Yeghiayan.

The organization also hoped to reach a wide audience through the effort, but especially consumers age 25 and under because they account for a major share of new HIV cases.  

Yeghiayan said the organization saw the number of online impressions to its Twitter account double in the first four days of the campaign. Online mentions of the brand increased four times and the retweet rate jumped 10-fold in that time, she explained, adding that the group only spent $500 on the effort.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also launched a major HIV/AIDS campaign this week emphasizing social media. The “Testing Makes Us Stronger” effort focuses on black gay and bisexual men.

The organization released a study on Tuesday revealing that young bisexual and gay black men account for 22% of new HIV infections. The campaign will cost the CDC $2.4 million, it said.  

The effort includes national print and online advertising, as well as a dedicated website and Facebook page. The CDC will also share campaign updates through the @AIDSgov, @HIVTalk, and other Twitter accounts, encouraging campaign-focused tweets about HIV and AIDS observance days and campaign events.

The CDC created the campaign's social media component after conversations with more than 400 black gay and bisexual men.

“This is where we can reach them,” said Jill Smith, Act Against AIDS campaign manager for the CDC's division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.  

As the use of non-traditional media grows, she said future HIV/AIDS campaigns will continue to increase their use of social media, which also happens to be more cost effective.

AIDS organizations applauded the increased use of social media in awareness campaigns.

“There is a concentration of young people who think they are immortal or don't understand the risks,” said Peter Kronenberg, VP for communications at the National Association of People With AIDS. “This is a population that has to be reached, and Twitter and Facebook are the tools for reaching them.”

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.

News by email...