World AIDS Day 2008: The Power of YOU


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December 1 marked the 20th annual observance of World AIDS Day Exit Disclaimer. At, we used several new media tools to commemorate this day. We invited you to blog, to upload photos of yourself wearing a red ribbon to social network sites, and to join us in the virtual world of Second Life. But today’s blog post is not so much about what we did—it’s about YOU.

Facing AIDS

We asked you to help reduce HIV stigma by posting a photo of yourself wearing a red ribbon to your online social networks–showing that you care about HIV/AIDS and helping to promote HIV testing.

How YOU responded

You responded in full force. Nearly 700 of you joined the Facebook group Exit Disclaimer, and 460 RSVP’d for the Facebook event. Exit Disclaimer In addition nearly 200 of you posted photos to the Flickr Exit Disclaimer group. You passed the word to your friends, and you posted discussions and comments about what World AIDS Day means to you. Avatars in Second Life, drag queens in England, and our parents in the Midwest sent us photos. Our colleagues at the CDC took great initiative in generating a workplace photo response–even CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding uploaded a photo! One of you took a photo of the Empire State building lit up with red lights, and another submitted a photo of your son who died of an AIDS-related illness. Some of the photos are below – and we encourage you to visit our Flickr page to see many more. Also, if you haven’t already, it’s not too late to upload your photo!

Bloggers Unite

We partnered with NIDA and Bloggers Unite Exit Disclaimer to encourage bloggers to dedicate their posts on December 1 to HIV/AIDS.

How YOU responded

You responded with posts more powerful (and plentiful) than we could have anticipated. We are still reading all the posts and following the conversations Exit Disclaimer you generated. You got the word out, told your stories, linked to resources, and told your communities, your friends, families, and readers why HIV/AIDS matters to you. Some of the bloggers that inspire the team, like Beth Kanter Exit Disclaimer and NTEN’s Holly Ross Exit Disclaimer, also dedicated their blog to World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day in Second Life

Our colleagues in Second Life invited us to speak at the opening of Karuna Exit Disclaimer, the first island in Second Life solely dedicated to HIV/AIDS information, support, and education. We accepted the invitation and created our avatars, virtual posters, and note cards for the event.

How YOU responded

Almost 500 people (or rather, their avatars) visited Karuna on World AIDS Day – and for many of you it was your first time exploring this virtual world. Our colleagues in Atlanta, Maryland, Virginia, California, and North Carolina created their own avatars and took the unfamiliar plunge into Second Life. People who had lost friends and loved ones came to the event to share their stories and remember.

But that’s not all…

There were many, many other World AIDS Day events and activities that involved new media. We were inspired by the following examples – a small sample of the many:

YOU make the difference.

Thank you. For caring enough to take photos. For telling your friends. For telling your stories about HIV/AIDS. For embracing new media for social change.

We were inspired by your creativity and compassion. YOUR involvement in the many World AIDS Day 2008 new media activities demonstrated the potential power of new media. But more importantly, it shows the power of YOU.

Now what?

We learned a lot from you this World AIDS Day – and we have a lot more to learn. Now that the dust has settled, we’re taking the time to ask ourselves: moving forward, how should we use new media to respond to HIV/AIDS? What worked well? What could have worked better? What do YOU think?