On June 3, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through our National Prevention Information Network (CDCNPIN) will host its first Twitter Town Hall in preparation for the 2010 National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). We are inviting you to attend this exciting event, but first let me answer what may be your first and basic question: “What is a Twitter Town Hall”?
As a Lead Health Communication Specialist at the CDC, I have heard of Twitter. I even have an account. But have I used it? Not really. I must admit that I am a novice. What I do know is that a Twitter Town Hall is not simply tweeting (sending short messages), but tweeting with a focus, for a set period of time, on the same topic, with other people and organizations on Twitter. Twitter has an impressive reach of more than 100 million users worldwide — so these Town Halls have the capability of reaching an unheard of number of people and being perhaps the largest Town Hall ever held. Both President Obama and the First Lady have hosted town halls and/or discussions via Twitter.
Twitter is in sync with this age of fast-paced, instant messaging. And we are learning to write 140 character messages that are clear, concise, accurate, meaningful, and usable. Our whittled-down messages are helping people worldwide stay connected, get the latest news, and even learn how to protect health. I see Twitter as not just a messaging service, but an information service too; a way to provide real-time news about what is happening in the world.
And on June 3, CDC will use this tool to support our prevention partners’ efforts to relay one of the most important health messages needed to combat the devastating toll that HIV and AIDS are still having in the United States: Take the Test. Take Control. This message emphasizes that knowing your HIV status is a critical step to protecting your health and that of others.
The purpose of the event is to foster dialogue among people planning NHTD events or activities. Moderated by CDCNPIN staff, we’ll be joined by CDC’s Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention Dr. Kevin Fenton, as well as CDC’s Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention Dr. Jonathan Mermin, with a special message from CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) will share information on activities and practices for NHTD, and AIDS.gov will be on hand to discuss using new media to get your message out for NHTD.
Please join us on June 3, 2010, from 3:00pm to 4:30pm EST for the National HIV Testing Day Twitter Town Hall. Use the hashtag #NHTD to join the conversation, and follow @CDCNPIN , @NAPWAUS , and @AIDSgov for updates . Questions about how the Twitter Town Hall will work? Leave a comment, or send CDCNPIN a message on Twitter – we’d love to hear from you!