Wednesday, May 5, 2010

HIV/AIDS awareness through YouTube

There is scope for using web 2.0 tools like photo sharing, video content and experiences using the Internet for creating awareness about HIV/AIDS. This post explores the initiatives on the net, especially on YouTube.

Founded in 2005, YouTube has emerged as the world's most popular online video community, allowing millions of people to watch and share original videos. YouTube allows people to easily upload and share video clips on and across the Internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs, and e-mail. This is a quality that has led to the creation of numerous similar websites all emulating the same principles of Web2.0 but none have been as successful as YouTube. Today, ten hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.

In an effort to embrace non-profit organisations to maximise their outreach through the website, the YouTube Nonprofit Programme helps organisations connect with their supporters, volunteers and donors without the expensive outreach campaigns. Currently available only in the US and the UK, applicants for this programme can avail many benefits like Premium Branding and increased uploading capacity, highlighting of videos under the 'Promoted Videos' section throughout the website, an option to include a 'Donate' button to drive fund-raising and listing on the 'Nonprofit channels' and 'Nonprofit videos' page. The website also carries tips for NGOs to maximise the reach of their Nonprofit Channel on

The endemic of AIDS is gradually emerging as a serious threat to human beings and requires sustained and global awareness. I conducted a quick research into the ways the world's cyber community has harnessed the tools available on Youtube to spread awareness and news on HIV/AIDS through the website.

Many organisations are actively using YouTube for outreach. A number of channels set up by NGOs and Nonprofit Channels and working to curtail the spread of HIV and to provide support to HIV+ people around the world.

UNICEF has among the most active and vibrant channels working on HIV/AIDS. It has posted numerous  video stories, coverages of conferences and awareness videos on the issue. A search of 'UNICEF' reveals the presence of channels which contain localised content from different countries for their focus areas. The UNICEF India channel, for example, showcases the HIV/AIDS anti-stigma Public Service Announcement created in collaboration with UNAIDS and the International Cricket Council (ICC). Another interesting use is visible at the UNICEF's primary channel wherein they showcase a book written by Jenna Bush, titled, 'Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope' a personal account of a 17 year old HIV+ girl who struggles to break free from a vicious cycle of abuse, poverty and illness.

UNAIDS is also present on YouTube with their channel with a few short films for awareness generation which include a music video "dedicated to a woman's fight against the stigma, discrimination and ignorance towards people living with HIV AIDS". The channel also features a short film with the UNAIDS Special Representative Michael Ballack which is part of an online competition.

No Hiv, No Aids - Stop This Disease- This channel is dedicated to increase people's awareness about HIV and AIDS. Particularly information about the early symptoms of HIV infection, signs and transmission, HIV/AIDS virus testing, cure, medication, treatment, services and clinics.

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation seeks to prevent pediatric HIV infection and eradicate pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs. Their YouTube channel highlights some of their case studies and their work through a video titled, 'Our Promise: A Generation Free From HIV', apart from their fund-raising and awareness activities involving celebrities.

CD4 The Band is based in Sheffield (UK) and formed by musicians from different cultures and backgrounds. Performing in festivals or live concerts, the band makes original music with the purpose of raising awareness about HIV prevention. Their YouTube channel carries two of their latest music videos apart from a link to their MySpace page which contains more of their tracks.

TextToChange is a non-profit organisation which is devoted to improve health education and medicine adherence via mobile telephony in developing countries. Their YouTube channel currently contains videos of the launch of the Text to Change HIV/AIDS awareness quiz in Mbarara, Uganda wherein 15,000 Celtel subscribers participated in a 6 week multiple choice sms quiz.

Taprootsinc is a group of Poets from Chicago who have come together to generate awareness on HIV and AIDS in a creative manner. The YouTube channel of Tapsrootsinc showcases the work of the poets at various meets around the city.

Virus Free Generation Hip Hop Tour is an international campaign to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS amongst European and Southern African youth. The Tour visits the capital cities of Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa, where established hip hop artists from Europe and Africa collaborate on subject related projects and visit HIV/AIDS related youth programmes, conduct workshops to local youth and musicians etc. Their YouTube page carried music videos of their performances and links from where people may download their music.

Get Lippy- MTV and The Body Shop have come together to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS with the creation of the Move Your Lips campaign. The campaign's YouTube channel currently carries messages from some of their celebrity supporters talking about the importance of spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS.

The FacetoFaceAIDS Project's channel carries a lot of information about their work in countries like South Africa, Malawai and Cambodia and also informs viewers about how they can assist the Project. The Organisation works in documenting the HIV pandemic in its project locations as well as raising awareness and supporting local organizations in their fight against HIV and poverty.

If you delve deeper into the YouTube website and explore more videos and channels I am sure you will find many interesting videos which would get you thinking about how you can use this powerful medium to reach out to your peer groups and to network with like-minded individuals, organisations and agencies.

Apart from these dedicated channels, a general search for “HIV/AIDS” under Videos shows up around 1000s of videos tagged with this keyword which are not only uploaded by organisations, Universities and Government agencies working on the issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS but also by individuals who are interested in the issues. This suggests that there is a lot of scope for networking as well as outreach through this website alone. Also worth noting is that most of the channels/videos have links of the organisation's page/profile on social networking and photo sharing websites which expands the organisation's network and allows it to reach to people it may never have communicated with without these Web2.0 tools.

The Internet is a democratic medium and its in the users' hands to use the powers that are at their disposal.

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