Using new technologies to debunk HIV myths and encourage testing

Of the nearly 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S., almost one in five are unaware of their HIV positive status. Additionally, half of new infections are transmitted by people who don’t know they have the virus. At a time when unmet need is high, and more has to be accomplished with fewer resources, HIV advocates are finding innovative ways to raise awareness, mobilize communities and encourage HIV testing.

For instance, HIV/AIDS service organizations are harnessing the power of new media to reduce fear and clear up misperceptions that can be roadblocks to testing, including:

    • Testing is not needed because I’m not at risk. (The CDC recommends HIV testing for everyone as part of routine care.)
    • The testing process is complex and takes too long. (Rapid HIV tests can provide results in as little as 20 minutes.)
    • People will find out if I get tested. (Testing is completely confidential.)


As a communications firm at the intersection of health, technology and innovation, FKH realizes the potential impact new technologies have on public perception, behavior and health. So in honor of National HIV Testing Day (NHTD – June 27), we’d like to highlight how new technologies are providing campaigns with the opportunity to reach larger audiences, engage in meaningful conversation, help debunk myths and encourage HIV testing. Because when people become aware of their HIV status, they can seek treatment earlier, which in turn protects their health and reduces the risk of transmission to others. Examples include:

Social Media: Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr offer a way for HIV advocates to more broadly share information and encourage conversation. With 87,000+ likes on Facebook, Act Against AIDS utilizes this platform to raise awareness, promote events and highlight photos and interviews with HIV community members.

Apps: As smart phones and tablets become more popular, organizations leverage the convenience and efficiency of apps to connect with the public. Current apps include testing site locators, HIV/AIDS information and updates, and medication management services. Apps provide the privacy that many value.

Video: Some campaigns incorporate promotional and educational videos to engage the community. Bilingual campaigns such as the CDC’s REASONS/RAZONES, provide compelling personal stories to raise awareness and reduce stigma around HIV testing.

These campaigns and apps demonstrate innovative ways HIV advocates are driving action. What other new technologies have you seen implemented by campaigns to drive action?

Recommended Links:
National HIV Testing Day
CDC’s National HIV and STD Testing Resources Blog