We joined approximately 200 Washington, D.C. youth at the second annual Golden Ticket: Party for HIV Prevention this month in commemoration of World AIDS Day. Metro TeenAIDS (MTA) , a local community health organization, sponsored the affair with the support of community, corporate, and government partners.
Building on last year’s success, the party was named after Trojan Magnum condoms, which DC youth often call ‘the golden ticket’,” noted Raul Posas , MTA’s Social Marketing Manager. In addition to the booming music, stirring spoken word, energetic dancing, and an appetizing buffet, attendees took advantage of free onsite HIV and STI testing. The youth were also offered an opportunity to create a personal campaign against HIV/AIDS as part of MTA’s “REALTalkDC” initiative.
Throughout the evening, MC Paul Spires , an MTA Youth Center Associate, inspired the crowd with high energy commentary and encouraged his peers to get tested and spread the message by checking-in to Foursquare and Facebook on their mobile phones.
The event drew a cross-section of young people and showcased an innovative approach to delivering HIV prevention that leverages MTA’s “REALTalkDC” social marketing and education campaign for area youth. Such responses to the HIV epidemic have been called for by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy .
The organizers leveraged both traditional and digital media ranging from palm cards to mobile technology to online social networking websites to reach one of the groups most impacted by the HIV epidemic. In 2009, approximately 20 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV were aged 13-24. Within this group, African American teens are disproportionately impacted, accounting for 65 percent of HIV diagnoses among youth and young adults in the same year. [CDC Fact Sheet].
“Our goal was to bring together young people in more innovative ways to have a platform for them to express themselves in a creative approach to combat the District’s HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said Raul. By the end of the night, more than a third of the participants had been tested for HIV and STIs.
By using a wide array of media, MTA is not only engaging young people in HIV and STI prevention, but also creating a safe space for teens and young adults to educate and influence the behavior of their peers. This effort illustrates one way to meet the needs of communities and populations at risk for HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections.
Overall, a multifaceted approach to HIV prevention, which includes leveraging mobile technology and new and social media to reach youth and their peers, is necessary to reduce the incidence of HIV infection in young people.
We are inspired by the way MTA and its partners are engaging teens and young adults in an important conversation about HIV, and we look forward to the next party!
For more information about REALtalkDC & Metro TeenAIDS, please visit www.realtalkdc.org . Video of the 2nd Annual Golden Ticket: Party for Prevention can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUcerbqavws
Are youth and young adults apart of your target audience? If so, which strategies are you utilizing to reach them?