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

It is 2014: Don’t act like it is 2005 if we are to reach a world without AIDS

Throughout the first full day of the International AIDS Conference, there was a recurring theme. Well, rather there was an unofficial recurring theme not listed in the books. That theme essentially boiled down to: It is 2014: Don’t act like it is 2005 if we are to reach a world without AIDS.

In the last few years there has been an exponential growth in the number of prevention science results. We went from a scarcity of knowledge regarding what works in terms of prevention to an almost-gluttony of scientific results that has led to a fully packed prevention toolbox.  Yet, there are still 6,000 new HIV infections each day. The top ten countries account for 61% of the new infections. The top ten countries are as follows:  South Africa, Nigeria, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, USA and Zambia. Continue reading

The beauty of Australia as we step up the pace in the fight against AIDS


Upon landing in Australia I will just have the continent of Antarctica left to discover and trek about. Sounded like a grand goal to have 28 hours ago when I first left New York, with a five year old in tow.  After enduring the hundredth leg cramp and staving off the latest bout of dehydration, I glanced out the window and caught this majestic landscape. Continue reading

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