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Mobilizing for National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2009

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By Deb LeBel and Tseli Mohammed

National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

On June 8th we will join our partners in observing National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NCAHAAD) Exit Disclaimer. NCAHAAD is an HIV mobilization effort designed to encourage Caribbean-American and Caribbean-born individuals, across the United States and its territories, to get educated, tested, treated, and involved.

Since NCAHAAD is only in its third year, spreading the word is an ongoing challenge for the National Planning Committee lead, Caribbean People International Collective, Inc. (CPIC) Exit Disclaimer. Population-specific HIV awareness days help those of us working in HIV prevention, treatment, and research to publicly focus on the effects of HIV among a specific group of people. Messages for this day may resonate with members of these communities and complement the overall messages of the other HIV awareness days.

Ryan Stewart-Frederick, President of CPIC, spoke with us about this year’s key messages, stating that: “On NCAHAAD, we address stigma, knowing that HIV should not be a ‘secret’ problem. It is a very serious problem in our communities that needs to be further addressed. NCAHAAD is an opportunity to look across the diverse communities where Caribbean Americans live and work to see how these communities can unite to better respond to the epidemic.”

This year’s goal is to inspire a thousand people to act on the call for awareness and testing by getting an HIV test or talking to their friends and family about HIV. New media has a place in reaching this goal. Ryan said “We’ve realized that new media tools can help us reach a larger audience with our messages, outside of those individuals who normally care about health disparities among Caribbean Americans. We can quickly reach more people.”

Ryan started tweeting Exit Disclaimer as one way to integrate new media into CPIC’s efforts to mobilize for NCAHAAD 2009. After June 8, he will continue to share information on Twitter about HIV particularly among Caribbean Americans and then use the account in the time leading up to next year’s observance.

We asked Ryan how individuals can get involved in NCAHAAD. His suggestions included:

  • On Twitter? Let your followers know that June 8 is NCAHAAD, and use #NCAHAAD09. You can also retweet @NCAHAAD‘s Exit Disclaimer tweets!
  • Using social networks? Become a fan of NCAHAAD’s Facebook Exit Disclaimer page. And soon you can become a friend of NCAHAAD on MySpace!
  • Blogging? Consider talking about NCAHAAD in your blog, or dedicating your post to it on June 8.
  • Want to participate in-person? Attend a national or international event Exit Disclaimer in your area.

Have ideas for a group just getting started with using new media to promote its messages? Ryan welcomes suggestions by email or Twitter Exit Disclaimer. Ryan’s willingness to explore and try new things to spread NCAHAAD’s messages reminded us that every day each of us has a chance to figure out how new media tools can help us meet our mission. Where can we go by next June 8? What lessons or examples can you offer?

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