Saturday, June 27th was National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). For the past month, we’ve focused on real stories by real people about what taking an HIV test meant to them, through our “I Know, I Took the Test ” blog series and widget. We highlighted real personal HIV testing stories collected by organizations such as The Positive Project, Southern AIDS Living Quilt, National Association of People with AIDS, and POZ. We’ve been moved by the stories of people young and old, heterosexual and gay, male, female and transgender, people from different races and ethnicities, and people who have tested positive and negative for HIV. We’ve been inspired by their courage in offering their stories to all of us.
To help share these very powerful and personal messages, we employed new media tools such as Twitter , widgets, ecards, virtual worlds, enewsletters, and this blog. We worked with our CDC colleagues to create the widget that airs the stories from the “I Know. I Took the Test” blog series and then shared the widget with our Federal and community partners.
And after we planned and promoted and shared, we waited to see if these stories would spread. We hoped that people would hear them. And we hoped that people, just like you, would share your own stories.
And you did.
You shared the stories, the messages, and the importance of storytelling – of talking about what matters – by grabbing hold of what we offered. You capitalized on the new (and old) tools to get the word out. June 27th was an “old” – long-established – awareness day in a new era of communication and engagement, supported by new media tools.
Nearly 200 of you embedded the widget in your blogs and websites, resulting in over 8,463 views. You blogged and your readers told more stories and added their voices. You used Twitter and the #NHTD09 hashtag to tweet and re-tweet about National HIV Testing Day . You shared the link to HIVtest.org and told and encouraged your friends, family, and loved ones to text their ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948) to find a HIV testing center near them. Community Voice Mail broadcasted a voice mail to their clients about HIV testing and, in return, they heard from some of the hardest to reach people – those that do not have a phone – about why HIV tests matter to them.
We were heartened by PatientsLikeMe , who asked their community to share their HIV stories. And their community responded by saying things such as, “I think [testing] is probably the single most important thing a person can do for him/herself. The test will show if a person is infected, important knowledge no matter how it turns out.” And another wrote, “Getting tested for HIV is so important. The knowledge of knowing can make a difference as to how you will live your journey in life.”
As the AIDS.gov team’s Awareness Days Director, I work year-round to help promote all the Awareness Days. On the day after, I always peek at the Day’s preliminary results and achievements. The merger of “old” and new media strategies is one of the NHTD successes this year. The old strategy? Storytelling to communicate messages. The new strategy: new media tools applied to the need to increase HIV awareness. Let us all hope the results were “I Know. I Took the Test.”