A review of the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (see the December 4, 2008 “HIV/AIDS – Advances in Hope Video Podcast”) might leave some people puzzled about why National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will be marked on September 27. Many of us in the HIV/AIDS community (and some people beyond this circle) well know that gay men have been longtime leaders in calling for an effective nationwide response to this epidemic. The history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States as it has evolved over the last 30 years has been significantly informed by these voices.
So why in 2010 does The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) call for the observance of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day? As a leadership organization, we know the statistics: men who have sex with men (MSMs) are disproportionately affected by the epidemic and that our work to end stigma and encourage testing is not over. We know about complacency and the decrease in the public sense of urgency about the epidemic. (PDF, 428 KB) We see the social media landscape, where health information seeking behavior is a critical part of the public’s Internet activity and where social media and the use of mobile and other technologies have become integral to our daily life. Much attention has been given to the online behaviors of MSMs in terms of seeking sex. Finally, we know that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy has identified gay men as a high risk priority population deserving of a combined response by governments at all levels, businesses, faith communities, philanthropy, the scientific and medical communities, educational institutions, people living with HIV, and others.
This September 27, NAPWA is using new and old media tools to raise awareness of the issue of HIV/AIDS among gay men. NAPWA is on Twitter and its website offers factsheets, a poster (PDF, 1.81 MB) and other resources for local event organizers and individuals.
I ask each of you to consider how your use of social media can support our messages, both on the observance day and year round. Please share with us how you are supporting National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.