Rising Voices Note: Maureen Agena recently represented RV at the AIDS 2012 Conference recently held in Washington, DC. She'll be highlighting some of the people and projects that are using these digital media tools to help fight the spread of HIV.
The global AIDS community recently met in Washington, DC on July 22-27, 2012 for its biennial meeting called AIDS 2012: Turning the Tide Together,  with a clearer sense that the end of the AIDS epidemic is possible with sustained financial, political, and scientific commitment. Delegates, exhibitors and organizers convened at the event, which drew nearly 24,000 participants from 183 countries to discuss the coordinated efforts to expand HIV prevention and treatment initiatives, integrate HIV programs into broader health services, maintain funding, and improve human rights across vulnerable populations. However, there was also a special emphasis on the role that citizen media is playing in this effort to stop the spread of HIV. Throughout the five days, there was a full slate of sessions and conversations  about new media and HIV/AIDS.
Social media and web 2.0 technologies have been used to advance the human rights of many young people and adolescents in many spheres of life, but until recently, little had been done to advance the rights of young people living with HIV/AIDS. Although many people argue that the impact of new media is being overstated, it cannot be denied that more and more people are able to access this participatory form of mass communication. Many more people who were once excluded from vital information are increasingly using new media to advance their own well-being and that of their families.
For example, UNAIDS , the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS highlighted how social media and/or mobile technologies are instrumental in the response to HIV/AIDS in different settings. Young activist Aram Barra (@arambarra ) from Mexico talked about the campaign Crowd Out AIDS (@CrowdOutAIDS ), an online social collaboration platform developed with UNAIDS that maximizes the potential for young people's participation and leadership in the AIDS response and serves as the hub for all UNAIDS youth-related activities. The platform takes advantage of crowdsourcing which gathers information from the general public about current events, products and retail establishments. Crowd Out AIDS  features include CrowdMap, a global geo-location database of youth activists and organizations, as well as a forum, a blog and a wiki all built around engaging youth.
An example demonstrating the use of crowd sourcing is Declaration for Change (#dec4change). Young people from around the world used an app to develop a list of priorities and a declaration for change for the AIDS response aimed at achieving an AIDS-free generation.
This just an overview of some of the topics and initiatives using participatory media to help fight the spread of HIV and raise awareness about this global issue. We'll bring you a few more stories about organizations and projects that were in attendance at AIDS 2012 and how they are using these tools for a positive change.