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Creating Change 25: LGBT Equality Conference Highlights Strategies for Responding to HIV Epidemic

Creating ChangeThe 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change Exit Disclaimer was held last month in Atlanta. Touted as the “largest gathering of organizers and leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement,” the conference included sessions on current HIV incidence and prevalence rates, strategies for responding to the changing HIV epidemic, and held a day long New Media Institute on ways to mobilize within LGBT communities (including the use of new media).

Creating Change with New Media

Presenters and attendees engaged in several discussions on using new media to address HIV/AIDS in LGBT communities, where issues of stigma are still prevalent. Liam Cabal, Program Manager for AIDS United Exit Disclaimer, spoke about the m2mPower Exit Disclaimer initiative, a new cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), designed to reach men who have sex with men (MSM) with targeted capacity-building support, access to care programs, and policy activities designed to mobilize MSM around HIV-prevention messaging. This summer, AIDS United will have a social media contest where the public can submit creative social media initiatives to increase awareness of HIV in LGBT communities.

Ryan Davis from Blue State Digital facilitated the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) New Media Institute Exit Disclaimer. The Institute provided an introduction to social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), along with social media best practices. Some examples of social media best practices included:

  • Be personal and authentic. Social media is not for press releases, so keep your content personal.
  • Be relevant and timely. Relevant and emotionally connected tweets are retweeted at a higher level than stats and news updates.
  • Be social. For every person that “likes” your Facebook page, only 1 out of 10 will come back unless you engage them.
  • Engage. Agencies should focus on communicating with friends/followers. Respond to comments even if it’s only to acknowledge you are listening.
  • Evaluate and adapt. “Impressions” or “reach” can sometimes be misleading. Look who is retweeting on Twitter or sharing your posts on Facebook. One user with a high number of followers/friends can really push your message out there.

We also asked other attendees to comment on using social media in their work. Watch this video to hear their thoughts.

While most of the HIV-related discussion at Creating Change 25 looked at current trends and identifying strategies for the future, the conference also acknowledged past work and efforts.This was demonstrated in the conference’s inclusion of a tour of The Names Project Exit Disclaimer, which provided participants an opportunity to view the original AIDS Quilt.

The conference was a reminder that for 25 years, Creating Change and its sponsor, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Exit Disclaimer, have continued to bring issues related to HIV/AIDS to the forefront. To learn more about the conference and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, visit http://www.ngltf.org/Exit Disclaimer.

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