Co-authored by Dana Van Gorder, ED, Project Inform
We use this blog to share some of the resources and work being done in the HIV community, focusing on organizations that are using new media to get the word out and enhance their services. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s important to make use of ALL the tools available, including one of the most basic, and ubiquitous, the telephone. We asked Alan McCord, Director of Information and Outreach, and Dana Van Gorder, ED, of Project Inform , to tell us more about their work and the role of new and more traditional media. Here is what they had to say:
Project Inform’s mission is to represent people living with HIV in the development of treatments and a cure, support individuals to make informed choices about their HIV health, advocate for quality health care to respond to HIV and related conditions, and to promote medical strategies that prevent new infections. The National HIV Treatment Hotline was started 25 years ago as our Founding Director, Martin Delaney , began answering calls in his home, at a time when information about HIV and its treatment was difficult and often impossible to come by. Since then, the program has answered hundreds of thousands of calls from people living with HIV, their caregivers and families and medical providers.
Our trained volunteer operators, who live with or have been impacted by HIV, answer calls from people who have recently found out they are HIV-positive. They also respond to requests for explaining more about routine testing, HIV, its treatment and requests for referrals to local support and medical services. We can answer calls in Spanish (and offer many of our online resources in Spanish ), and offer an email service through www.projectinform.org/questions and www.projectinform.org/preguntas . This year we are embarking on a more visible presence of the Hotline in various media, including HIV magazines, newspapers, online and perhaps radio. We are also reaching out through more new media and finding our way with those outlets.
We’ve developed a database of emails that we send our monthly PIP eNews to, with write-ups about our work, news about the latest developments in HIV care, and notices of special events that we are involved in. We started using Facebook and Twitter to test these markets and to further inform the general public about the most pressing issues in HIV-related public health policies and treatment issues. We also want to build a larger support network for HIV issues in general. We have signed up more than 600 in less than three months and use analytics for some assessment. Some increase in our website hits has occurred as well as add-ons to our listserv. We’ll continue to re-assess how these online communities dovetail with our program goals.