More than 350 people attended the National African American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and Other Health Disparities in New Orleans last week. The theme of the conference was “Forward Together – Engaging Our Future Leaders.” We hosted a social media lab where we provided small group technical assistance on using new media in response to HIV. Not only did we share a lot of information, we also heard from community members across the country how they are using new media. Here are some of the highlights:
- Ken Williams and Jonathan Mitchell from Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) in Chicago were the first people to come by the lab and, like many of the participants, were already using tools like Facebook and YouTube. Ken’s YouTube channel, KenlikeBarbie features personal videos, story to video blogs, and a video contest for TPAN. They came with questions about how to best evaluate their efforts and how to develop a new media strategy.
- United Black Element (U-UBE), a Dallas-based organization stopped by to share how it is using YouTube and Facebook to engage young Black gay and bisexual men in conversations about healthy relationships, safer sex and sucessfully increasing attendance at their events. U-BE also sought advice on how to increase Facebook interactions.
- Community-based organization Brotherhood, Inc. showed us how they were using Facebook, Twitter, and dating sites to reach young men in New Orleans. They also shared their plans for launching a presence on BlogTalkRadio and Tumblr to further extend their reach and wanted advice on managing multiple social media channels.
- In addition to conducting outreach on dating sites, The Philadelphia Center in Northwest Louisiana talked to us about conducting HIV/AIDS education and outreach on Grindr, a GPS-enabled dating app for mobile devices. They sought assistance with tracking and evaluating the effectiveness of their online and mobile outreach activities. We are getting more and more questions about evaluation and will address this in a future post.
- While we’ve been working with Venton Jones from the National Black Gay Mens Health Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC) for a while, he came by for assistance with planning events leading up to AIDS 2012 . Follow NBGMAC on Twitter and Facebook . (We also attended the New Orleans Road to AIDS 2012 town hall meeting where conference participants and local leaders discussed how to enhance coordination with government and engage local communities to end the epidemic. )
From following the hashtags on Twitter, to attending sessions, to hearing from young black MSM from across the country in plenaries and town halls, the conference provided insight and reinforced the passion and dedication of those most impacted by the HIV epidemic. But as Christopher Bates, Deputy Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy, said during the conference, “This is not about saving ‘some people’, it’s about saving a nation.”