In January, more than 250 people convened at the 10th annual National African American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and other Health Disparities in Los Angeles, CA. The importance of new media in the fight against HIV/AIDS was highlighted in several conference sessions, trainings, and posters. The AIDS.gov team had the opportunity to talk with conference organizers from the National AIDS Education & Services for Minorities, Inc. (NAESM) about the importance of the conference and its impact on participants.
Social Media Lounge: Using New Media to Reach Black Gay Men
The AIDS.gov team worked with conference organizers to promote a Twitter hashtag and to host a social media lounge where we provided one-on-one technical assistance to help attendees create plans for using new media in their agencies to reach African American MSM.
Many of those who came by were already using social media, but did not have specific social media plans. We encouraged them to use the NMAC Social Media Workbook and referred them to the new media resources available on AIDS.gov. In particular, we recommended that people:
- Define their social media objectives;
- Measure their objectives; and
- Find out what tools their audiences are already using.
New Media Institute
At the conference’s new media institute, the AIDS.gov team worked with the National Black Gay Men’s Health Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC) to assist attendees in creating communications plans to disseminate information to their communities about major policies such as the Affordable Care Act and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, as well as about issues such as biomedical HIV prevention.
New Media Examples
Also at the conference, we learned from participants about how they are using new media in their efforts to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For example, Kenneth Johnson from Georgia’s Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness shared his experience with using dating apps for partner notification purposes. Others also reported using dating apps for outreach and other services. To assist them with their planning, we referred them to National Coalition of STD Directors, which has guidelines for this type of work .
In addition, the In the Meantime Men’s Group , a former AIDS.gov micro-grant recipient, shared with us how they implemented a text messaging intervention with over 1,000 people. Their “ITMT 411” text messaging service provides young black men who have sex with men, ages 18-29, with HIV/AIDS educational updates, testing locations, and times, as well as with responses to resource inquiries.
We also had the opportunity to learn about the Creating Responsible and Intelligent Black Brothers Fellowship (CRIBB) program, a leadership development program for young black gay men, ages 18-24. CRIBB provides participants with leadership training to strengthen their involvement in reducing HIV/AIDS and other health disparities within the African American community, and emphasizes how new media can help extend the reach of HIV programs.
Were you at this conference? What examples of the use of new media to address HIV did you learn about?
Didn’t attend? What can you tell others about using new media to reach black gay men with HIV messages and information?