A World AIDS Day Message to our Colleagues

World AIDS Day, Dec 1 2008

Today marks the twentieth World AIDS Day—it’s a day for all of us to come together to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, to remember those we’ve lost, and to acknowledge those working to respond to this epidemic.

HIV/AIDS affects everyone, but as CDC’s Dr. Kevin Fenton reminded us in his statement for World AIDS Day, “Several U.S. populations bear the greatest burden of HIV. The impact is most severe for gay and bisexual men, who account for approximately half of new infections and of those living with HIV. Some minority communities are also disproportionately affected by the disease, with African-Americans becoming infected at seven times the rate of whites, and Hispanics at three times the rate of whites.”

We must continue to challenge ourselves to find innovative ways to reach people with HIV information and resources. This World AIDS Day has provided us with an opportunity to explore different ways to use new media in our work. We’ve invited you to join us in Facing AIDS for World AIDS Day to help reduce HIV/AIDS stigma. We’ve encouraged you to dedicate your blog posts on December 1 to issues related to HIV/AIDS. And we’ve even asked you to go “virtual” for a World AIDS Day event in Second Life.

In the last year, we have heard from hundreds of our colleagues about the importance of providing basic new media information and how to evaluate its appropriate use. So, on this very important day, we want to take a step back and ask ourselves: how can new media best augment and support efforts to respond to HIV/AIDS? As a member of the AIDS community, we’re still figuring out the best ways to train and convey this information. We want to know from you: how can we at be most helpful? We don’t have all the answers, but together we can figure it out.

The truth is that we’re still learning. We’re learning from our own activities—but mostly we’re learning from YOU. Today, as we all pause to think about the importance of this day, we want to thank you for the work you do to respond to HIV/AIDS. And we ask for your input in guiding our activities. Please tell us (leave a comment, tweet Exit Disclaimer, or send an email), how do you think new media can augment and support efforts to respond to HIV/AIDS?