XIX International AIDS Conference

TUGS07 Strengthening the Global HIV Response Through Social Media: Moving Beyond the Tweets
  Presentation with Q&A
Venue: GV Session Room 2
Time: 24.07.2012, 16:00 - 17:30
Chair: Amy Coulterman, Canada
This session will explore how individuals and organizations in the AIDS movement can use social media in unconventional and innovative ways. If social media is to serve the movement to its full potential, organizations, advocates, researchers and healthcare providers must take a strategic and creative approach to leveraging this popular medium. The AIDS movement is enriched by its global and collaborative nature, but it is diverse and dispersed. Social media can act as a community-building tool by facilitating access to information, generating discussions, and building relationships. A panel of multilingual advocates will show participants how to create their online voice, to make their work accessible and how to effectively speak to one another. A simultaneous online discussion and webstream will encourage interaction in Washington and beyond. Participants will gain the confidence to use social media in novel ways and hopefully inspire them to continue their conversations beyond the conference.


A. Coulterman, Canada

Young people mobilizing after the hash tag: an impact-assessment of virtual advocacy

A. Barra, Mexico

Researchers and social media: dissemination strategies to influence public opinion and policy

M. Montaner, Canada

How can health practitioners and physicians use social media to engage and interact with consumers?

H. Stephens, Australia

How to use social media when censorship gets in your way: experiences from Russia's 'Funeral Bureau'

A. Volgina, Russian Federation

Discussion and debate

Closing remarks

Powerpoints presentations
How to use social media when censorship gets in your way: experiences from Russia's 'Funeral Bureau' - Alexandra Volgina
How to use social media when censorship gets in your way: experiences from Russia's 'Funeral Bureau' - Alexandra Volgina

Rapporteur reports

GV report by Tashrik Ahmed

As we move into the fourth decade of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, are receiving novel methods and tools for communication and prevention. This session highlighted the use of social media as not just a gimmick, but a powerful tool in advocacy, community interaction, and prevention. Examples of social media in use were numerous, from CROWD OUT AIDS, an intervention aimed at dispelling taboos causing stigma, as well as e-consultation and idea collaboration in prevention campaigns. The power of social media rises above geopolitical lines, as seen from an example in Russia where a viral YouTube video put patients in control in a campaign pressing the Ministry in Health to recognize treatment deficits. In Canada, email was used to change the dialogue on a national legislative bill, and Twitter was used to find supporters of local HIV/AIDS causes. Presenters emphasized the notion that social media is a tool that is only useful when there is a goal in mind, and its use does necessitate simple and specific public relations guidelines as in any other form of communication. The entire session itself was live on the web, with audience members joining the international community in submitting commentary, slides, and questions using twitter hashtag #AIDS2012 for this session, and #social4hiv.

Youth report by Kimberly Atkins

TUGS07 Strengthening the Global HIV Response Through Social Media: Moving Beyond the Tweets

Social media (SM) can be an effective and successful means to reach out to civil society, educate, share and exchange information. SM involves two components: creation + exchange. It is shaping the way we communicate and enabling global collaboration on issues, including HIV/AIDS.

CrowdOutAIDS, created with UNAIDS, serves as an online platform for young people around the world to consult, share ideas and needs about how to respond and act in the HIV/AIDS movement. A map was created to geolocate youth-led organizations or organizations working with youth with HIV. Additionally, utilizing live forums and consultations, youth were able to input ideas about how youth can become involved in the movement which translated into the current UNAIDS Strategy for young people “CrowdOutAIDS Strategy”. YouthForce utilized an e-consultation to showcase young people’s work and offers online forums focused on chosen topics. At the AIDS Youth Pre Conference 2012, through a live crowd sourcing application, youth submitted ideas/edited and added to existing ideas to develop three advocacy messages: we want access, we insist on partnerships, we demand equality.

Key themes from this session included understanding that there are multiple ways to use SM, that SM is a tool that needs a goal to become a strategy and to monitor, evaluate and adjust SM throughout a project. Facebook can be a powerful referral tool, Twitter is often reported on by the media (to gauge public opinion) and YouTube can be fashioned to translate lengthy reports into simple, easily understood messages. An important cautionary message shared was to know when to take the conversation offline.

SM was used in a campaign in Russia in which “Google bombs” directed users who searched for “funeral bureau” to the ministry of health’s website. An additional suggestion was to employ celebrities to tweet about the issue. As for low resource settings without access to social media, cell phones have been an effective medium to convey messages since coverage is ever increasing in these areas.

“Objective isn’t to create communities but galvanize those already there”

LAPC report by Paloma Mohamed Martin.


This session explored how individuals and organizations in the AIDS movement can use social media in unconventional and innovative ways.


 A. Barra (Mexico)  in his presentation “Young People Mobilizing After the Hash Tag: An Impact-Assessment of Virtual Advocacy” described three campaigns which mobilized young people  to create slogans for advocacy campaigns. He demonstrated that  social media can be global, inclusive, cost effective, dynamic and quick.

 M. Montaner , Urban Health Initiative and the Centre for Science and Drug Policy (Canada) in her presentation  Researchers and Social Media: Developing and Dissemination Strategies to Influence Public Opinion and Policy” noted  social media allows scientists to “take the content to the people” in a form that is accessible.   It is a way of “controllingsustaining and disseminating the message “ in a goal directed way.

 H. Stephens , Health Practitioners and Social Media in  Australia in his presentation “ How Can Health Practitioners and Physicians Use Social Media to Engage and Interact with Consumers? reported  since both clients and health care professionals are increasingly “wired” to their devices Social Media can be used for professional development, public relations, education and marketing  and well as patient management. 

 A.Volgina of Patients in Control the award winning Radical Union of HIV+ persons in the Russian Federation  described  How to Use Social Media When Censorship Gets in Your Way: Experiences from Russia's 'Funeral Bureau' “.    Patients in Control used “Google Bombs, YouTube, Email, blogs , a Russian form of Face book and SMS Messaging to combat negative framing of themselves in mainstream media and to end the pervasive stock outs of drugs for HIV+ patients  in Russia.


 Social Media as an important tool in HIV research, mobilization, creation of partnerships, advocacy , education, prevention and management.

SMS messages work best in countries where  internet connectivity is low but cell phone proliferation is high.

Develop guidelines   paying special consideration to confidentiality and access issues.

Use SM campaigns  in conjunction with offline campaigns to complement goal directed efforts.




    The organizers reserve the right to amend the programme.

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