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Digital Storytelling: A Community Tool to End HIV Stigma

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At AIDS.gov we’ve been thinking a lot about the power of storytelling. In the HIV community, everyone has a story to bring to the table, and more people are sharing theirs with new media. Many tools are available to help to facilitate storytelling and have conversations around HIV.

One example of a tool used to share stories with social media is Storify Exit Disclaimer, a website that gathers tweets, blog posts, online videos, photos, news articles, and more from around the web and places them into a single post, or “story.” It provides a space where audiences can see social media conversations from different channels happening in one place. These conversations can be curated to share multiple voices and shared via other existing networks (embedded into websites or blogs, linked to on Twitter and Facebook) to reach audiences. Storify stories archive these conversations and allow audiences to access them at any time. Check out an example from the White House Exit Disclaimer highlighting a Twitter chat on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and gender-related health disparities. Visit Storify’s website Exit Disclaimer to learn more and take a guided tour Exit Disclaimer of its features.

Another approach to tell stories is through digital storytelling. Digital storytelling features a brief, personal narrative story enhanced by sound, video, and symbolic imagery. Stories are user-generated and don’t depend on a third party to frame the experience of the storyteller.

To commemorate National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on May 19, the Banyan Tree Project Exit Disclaimer launched a new community-driven, community-owned initiative that puts the power to end HIV stigma back in the hands of the community. The initiative,”Taking Root: Our Stories, Our Community” is intended to facilitate the creation of an Asian and Pacific Islander  community story about the effects of HIV.

According to the Banyan Tree Project: It’s been said that it takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. “Taking Root” is grounded in the power of the individual story, but its territory extends beyond the individual. We are a multitude of voices: there is no singular Asian American or Pacific Islander experience, and the face of HIV is as diverse as the people affected by it. Through the connections forged by these individual experiences, we are able to tell a story about the ways we are affected by HIV. Together, these stories heal and it is through the telling and witnessing of them that we learn to overcome our silence and shame.  

The Banyan Tree Project trained Asian and Pacific Islander storytellers affected by HIV to create their own digital stories.  They developed their stories during an intensive three-day workshop facilitated by the Center for Digital Storytelling Exit Disclaimer. Participants were trained in the process of producing their own story, from developing their own narratives and producing voiceovers, to using audiovisual and editing equipment to create the final videos. These stories are simple yet powerful, with three-minute narratives recorded over a slideshow of photographs and text.

Earlier this month we attended the Banyan Tree Project’s flagship Asian and Pacific Islander HIV Awareness Day event in San Francisco where six digital stories were screened. Below is one of these digital stories, and you can see others on www.banyantreeproject.org Exit Disclaimer.

The Banyan Tree Project plans to promote these videos nationwide at other events and via social media. Follow updates on these digital stories on Twitter with the hashtag #withoutshame Exit Disclaimer.

Do you have a digital story about HIV to share? Spent some time on Storify? To find out about creating your own Taking Root story or hosting a workshop in your area, contact info@banyantreeproject.org.

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