Taking it to the streets and virtual highways: For we cannot be contained


Taking it to the streets and virtual highways


Professor Kirby from Australia loudly noted several times during a session at the International AIDS Conference that it was “time to get real.”   It is time to press forward and hold politicians, legislative bodies and fellow community members accountable to the tenets of human rights and health equity.


Today I presented on our Twitter research showcasing the double-edged sword of the twitterverse. It may very well decrease overt acts of stigmatization but it also allows a substantial space (that is used) to be angry at those very vulnerable populations that need our support if we are to reach a world without AIDS. Twitter can damp down stigmatization and it can also heighten stigma’s reach.   Hashtag activism is huge and can have real-world consequences such as Arab Spring yet it can lead to a lot of noise about a subject with no substantial real-world impact such as the #bringbackourgirls twitter campaign.   Just this very morning a new twitter campaign was begun called #bringthemhome to urge that the bodies of those that died on the downed Malaysian flight be brought back home.   This is the equivalent to “taking it to the virtual highway”. Continue reading

The meaning of community and saying “No More to Exclusion”

The meaning of community and saying “No More to Exclusion”

No more to exclusion, bigotry and AIDS; a phrase running through the city streets and consciousness of Melbourne. Today in Melbourne the Global MSM Forum Summit was held as part of the precursor activities of the International AIDS Conference. It was held at the beautiful and majestic Town Hall giving an extra weight of solemnity to the proceedings.  For it was a packed house that sadly had a few slated speakers that died on Malaysian plane brought down over Ukraine.  The sessions thus began with a heavy heart and a minute of silence.

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All that I learned from one little sign…

I recently was sent to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Not only was this the first time I traveled there but also this was the northernmost latitude I have ever visited, so rest assured I was excited.  (Yeah, I do care for these trivialities)

Without really knowing much more of the cities than where they were located, I jumped right into one of my favorite hobbies, “people watching”.  In a matter of minutes, it was obvious to me that there was a noticeable population of Asian individuals. As I do when curious, I asked around and drained my phone battery using Google. Turns out that the people I was seeing were Hmong and that Minnesota has the second largest population of Hmong immigrants in the United States, so I was in for a treat of history finding. Continue reading

The Unexpected in Social Marketing Campaign Billboards

The Unexpected in Social Marketing Campaign Billboards



Social marketing campaigns are meant to grab your attention, increase your awareness of a particular issue and move you towards some action. All presumably for the greater good, your health or your community’s health.  Of course, this is a rather simplified definition of social marketing. It is precisely 217 characters-well within the confines of two tweets.  That’s how we roll these days of short attention span and twitter fingers.


There are many facets to developing a special marketing campaign. There is formative assessment to check in on the pulse of the community. There is testing and honing of messaging. There is evaluation. There is in particular the need to understand how people process information and how they are moved from one act to another. Again, this is overly simplified. If you like a longer overview, here is a nice article on social marketing.


One thing that can work for social marketing techniques is the unexpected. By that I mean something that jars you out of a sleepy contemplation to increase awareness of the campaign.


Check out this billboard I came across while criss-crossing the state of Louisiana.  Does it grab you? Was it unexpected?

eyeballs better



Post and photo by Miriam Y. Vega



Searching for Ourselves in the Statehouse Reflection

Searching for Ourselves in the Statehouse Reflection


As I traveled through Jackson, Mississippi I took this photo. As I look at this photo again, I pause to reflect what a beautiful state capitol it is and what it represents.

States in the southern region of the US have gained in population while many other regions have seen population decreases. Due to these increases, the south has seen its power in the House of Representatives rise somewhat because of the increased number of congressional seats it has been afforded.  Hispanics and other marginalized groups, however, wonder about how they are represented in these congressional halls and chambers. How are their needs reflected in the congressional seats at both the federal and state level?  That reflection is not always clear; at times it is a bit cloudy and overcast.


This photo captures this sentiment and need. The building and architecture is grand and beautiful. However, it is oftentimes mired in an overcast political reality.  At times it seems like we are taking great strides then it seems we are stopping short.

Here is hoping that we continue to move forward despite overcast skies so that we may all find our reflection in the grand buildings before us.

Post and Photography by Miriam Y. Vega, PhD @miriamyvega

Inspired by the photo challenge of reflections


Other thoughts on reflection

Psychologistmimi: Traveling up in the air and staring down the fear

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections | Cancer Isn’t Pink

Phone Reflections | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections | Nola Roots, Texas Heart

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections | littlegirlstory