Recipes for taking action online—that’s the subtitle of a new resource from the International AIDS Society (IAS), The Young HIV Advocates’ Cookbook. Emboldened about youth activism on social media and other digital platforms and aiming to encourage more, IAS along with input from youth advocates created a handy guide that “young people can use to build a stronger HIV response in their own communities. The aim is to show the many different ways and opportunities that young people can join the HIV response on different levels, on social media, in their local communities, at work and in global advocacy forums.” Inspired by IAS Youth Ambassadors’ attention to social media as a forum for HIV advocacy at the last International AIDS Conference, the guide underscores the capacity and feasibility of online media—it’s an affordable, accessible, and far-reaching means of communication used everyday by many young people.
Considering that HIV is the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally, and that prevention and treatment access efforts often exclude youth, advocacy efforts are essential to addressing the sexual health needs of young people. The guide features brief interviews of AIDS 2016 Youth Ambassadors, zeroing in each individual’s motivation, use of social media, and community-based tailoring.
Sitraka Faniry Nantenaina, who lives in Madagascar, explains why she joined the fight: “With regards to the situation in Madagascar, much has to be done to engage young people in the HIV response. They represent approximately 64% of the population here and only 2% get tested, even though more than 50% are affected. That’s why I feel dutifully concerned about fostering groups of young people as peer educators to influence others positively when it comes to addressing HIV.”
Shaun Tafadzwa Bera, of Zimbabwe, weighs in on digital advocacy: “The social media platform which I use mostly is Facebook. I use it to raise awareness on pertinent issues relating to HIV and to advocate for better policies for people living with HIV in the world. I use it also to network with people working in the HIV response in my country and globally.”
The Cookbook provides ways to start-up HIV advocacy online with tips for creating an impactful digital footprint and information about HIV.
For more information, visit www.iasociety.org.