A month ago, we asked you a question: If a picture says a thousand words, how much would a picture of you holding a sign that says you’re “Facing AIDS for World AIDS Day” say? Could it help end stigma? Promote HIV testing?
Your responses overwhelmed and inspired us—over 800 of you shared your faces and words in recognition of World AIDS Day, December 1. You downloaded the Facing AIDS sign (PDF 157 KB), told us why you are Facing AIDS, took a photo, and added it to the Flickr group. Many of you changed your profile pictures on Facebook or MySpace and shared HIV testing information. You showed us how powerful new media tools such as photo sharing sites, social networks, blogs, and texting can be for communicating important health information.
Students at Boston University and Alabama A&M University organized events in observance of World AIDS Day and made the Facing AIDS campaign part of their activities. Boston University student Anna Graves told us “The response was very positive. Students chimed in on their personal reasons for facing AIDS, and filled out signs expressing individuality in taking a stand. Sign after sign began to line the glass windows of the central hallway, attracting people to come read them one by one.”
Organizations like the DC Center , the American Public Health Association , the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center , the Black Educational AIDS Project , and SaddleBack Church added their photos. Avatars in the virtual world of Second Life faced AIDS as part of World AIDS Day observances, and so did many, many other groups and individuals. Your photos were so powerful that Flickr featured them on their blog !
Flickr wasn’t the only blog that took action for World AIDS Day—over 350 bloggers signed up to write about HIV on December 1 as part of Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day . The National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the Bloggers Unite organizers, wrote a post for teens about the link between HIV and drugs. Community Voice Mail (CVM) blogged about the importance of getting HIV testing resources and other information to people who are homeless. Offline, we worked with CVM to share voice mail messages about World AIDS Day and HIV testing with their over 40,000 clients who are phoneless or in transition.
The White House also blogged in honor of World AIDS Day. Federal officials gathered at the White House to share some important recent steps we’ve taken as a country and around the world to face AIDS, and announced that Washington, D.C. will be the site of the International AIDS Conference in 2012.
Many people worked together to face AIDS for World AIDS Day this year, and re-committed to doing so year-round. In fact, so many of you were sharing resources and information on Twitter that World AIDS Day was a top trending topic on December 1! Your words and dedication inspire us. We’ve turned some of your photos into a video and we encourage you to share it widely. As you said on your signs: “We are Facing AIDS to reduce stigma, to remember those we’ve lost, ensure care for those we love, and to stop the spread of HIV.” We are honored to Face AIDS together with you.
Did you face AIDS in some way for World AIDS Day? We’d love to hear what prompted you to take action, and how can we keep the momentum going year-round. And if you haven’t added your photo to the Facing AIDS group , it’s not too late to do so!