UNAIDS Uses Social Media For Socially Responsible HIV Education Initiative

Crowdsourcing, or engaging group of people or community through an open call to collectively develop ideas and concepts, is a key concept in the age of social media. In order to tap the immense potential of its target audience, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is launching CrowdOutAIDS.org, an online collaborative project to crowdsource its new strategy on youth and HIV.

This is the first time the UN uses this kind of approach, and it is becoming increasingly popular amongst the philanthropic, socially responsible sector. Earlier this year, Lady Gaga used crowdsourcing via Facebook to decide how she should divide a $1 million donation to the Robin Hood Foundation, a New York charity devoted to the poor and homeless.

Mashable has an article in which it compiles 11 crowdsourcing platforms that have been created to raise funds for worthy projects and engage supporters. All the time new platforms and similar initiatives are being launched on the Web.

UNAIDS says every day 3,000 young people between 15 and 24 years of age become infected with the HIV virus. IN America there were more than one million people living with HIV in 2006. Of these, 5 percent were aged between 14 and 24, a number which has increased since then. Worryingly, almost half of infected teens are not aware of their status.

UNAIDS believes that leveraging new modes of communication and online collaboration with young people can help it shape policies to respond effectively to HIV.

“We’re asking youth around the world to debate, draft and work with UNAIDS to implement this new strategy,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “It is absolutely critical that we engage young people - not as recipients of our messages but as the actors and creators of change.”

CrowdOutAIDS.org follows a four-step model and is open to anyone aged 15-29. Participants can actively participate in shaping the new strategy from conceptualization to final drafting via a wiki-platform.

“It is important to involve young people in policy development in order for our views, expectations and aspirations to be fully represented,” said Jennifer Ehidiamen, a blogger and journalist from Nigeria, and online content curator for CrowdOutAIDS.org. “CrowdOutAIDS.org is an innovative way to build a strong community, interested in sharing solution-based ideas and actions on AIDS.”

The project will run over a period of two months with the final crowdsourced strategy being produced in January 2012. To follow the development of this project, look up @UNAIDS on Twitter. The hashtag for the project is #CrowdOutAIDS.

Image credit: UNAIDS