World AIDS Day: Tailoring HIV/AIDS Info for Distinct Audiences

Dec 1, 2011, 5:50 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

In a year with several milestone treatment breakthroughs, several federal agencies that provide information on HIV/AIDS are refining their sites and targeting messages for distinct audiences to increase the number of people infected with HIV who get tested and start treatment.

The numbers explain the effort. In observance of today's Worlds Aids Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an early edition of their monthly health indicators report, Vital Signs, that shows that an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States. Of those, as many as 1 in 5 people don't know they have HIV. CDC recommends that all Americans between the ages of 13-64 be tested for HIV at least once as part of regular medical care. Others at greater risk (those with more than one sex partner, those who inject drugs or men who have sex with men) should get tested once a year or more, so that people who test positive for HIV can begin treatment quickly.

Toward that goal, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has just redesigned its AIDSinfo page. Changes include:

NLM has also made changes to its InfoSida site, the agency’s Spanish language web page. Research by staff at NLM found that the primary audience for AIDSinfo is healthcare providers accessing medical practice guidelines, while the main users of infoSIDA are Spanish-speaking people with HIV; their family members and friends; and HIV case managers and outreach workers. Changes to infoSIDA include:

CDC has also just launched “Testing Makes Us Stronger,” a resource for black gay and bisexual men. Recent studies show that in major cities nearly one in three black gay and bisexual men is infected with HIV, and the majority (59 percent) don't know it. From 2006 to 2009, new infections in young black gay and bisexual men ages 13-29 increased by nearly 50 percent.

The campaign uses images of a diverse range of black men to get the attention of this population (see one example above). The campaign will be featured in targeted online and print media, as well as local outdoor, transit, and print media in cities experiencing high levels of HIV infection among black gay and bisexual men.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.