Monthly Archives: December 2014

21st Century: Are We Using Social Media To Reach Adolescents and Youth?

The need to have our HIV/AIDS prevention messages reach our adolescents and youth continues to be great. We have been working hard to ensure that the rates of infections among adolescents and youth remain low, but we are beginning to see a reversal due to increasing rates in this population. Somehow we are missing the mark and are in danger of loosing control of the epidemic especially among girls/young women and young men who have sex with men. Do you think that innovative social media messages such as the one below will reach this population?

Many adolescents and youth carry cellphones (even those in resource poor nations). The use of these devices via social media channels are an under-utilized resource in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We should explore more options on how to use social media tools through cellphones to reach our adolescents and youth in our HIV prevention efforts. Messages we share with adolescents and youth that resonate with them have the potential to go “viral” as they share and reshare with their friends through their social media channels.

To fight the HIV epidemic, we have to use the 21st century tools that our adolescents and youth are immersed in on a daily basis. Many of us have been left behind by the social media revolution and are happy to say I don’t have a Facebook, Google+, Instagram, or Twitter account. But if that is where our adolescents and youth are spending their time, isn’t that where we should concentrate our efforts? Do we know what they are up to in these social media channels as parents? As healthcare professionals, are we spending our reducing budget funds wisely when we implement programs that adolescents and youth find old fashioned, user-unfriendly, and hard to access?

I think that social media tools such as this video are sure to make an impact with youth. Of course social media tools should be tailored to the community where they are being used and be based on locally available resources. It’s our challenge going forth to determine the best way to reach our adolescents and youth with HIV prevention messages through social media. We should also allow them to be more involved with program planning, implementation, and maintenance (see my post from last week). They should be at the forefront of the services as volunteers or employees so their peers can also be similarly involved to use the services. How do you plan to create and disseminate your next HIV prevention program that is directed at our adolescents and youth?

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