Newsletter: Transcript and Summary from AIDS Chat

Hi All,

Thanks to those of you who participated in last week’s live chat to commemorate World AIDS Day and to think deeply about how citizen media can be used most effectively to supplement mainstream media’s coverage of AIDS and to empower HIV-positive individuals. You can download an edited version of the transcript from the Google Group page.

Key Points

Collins from the REPACTED project in Nakuru, which uses street theater to spread awareness about reproductive health, said that “blogging has contributed to the information sharing with the rest of the world and offering a free media for the community to tell their stories without going to the mainstream media which is very expensive for a common person.” But Solana, Global Voices’ Managing Editor, pointed out that she was able to find few HIV-positive bloggers in Sub-Saharan Africa when putting together GV’s global map of positive bloggers. Some argued that this is because HIV status is so stigmatized and taboo throughout most of the world, but others say the real problem is a lack of training and outreach programs to individuals living with AIDS.

There were also mixed feelings about whether HIV-related citizen media projects should edit the posts of their participants in order to verify the factual information related to AIDS or if it should be up to the bloggers themselves and their readers to make up for their own mind what is trustworthy information. Eric felt, for example, that if “someone is posting on their blog they contracted HIV via touch, and then this information is read publicly via the blog, we have the duty as professionals to step in and clear up the incorrect information.” Others felt, however, that editing blog posts is against the open spirit of the web and that concerned readers should leave comments pointing out what they believe is misinformation. A consensus emerged that factual information should be monitored and edited, but that opinions should never be edited or discouraged.

Outcomes

Once again it was agreed upon by all involved in the chat that the Blogging Positively group should continue their work on a guide which explains some case studies and some issues around blogging publicly as an HIV-positive individual. Solana pointed out that it’s crucial to involve HIV-positive bloggers in the process and learn from their experiences and ideas. Samuel Senfuka added that citizen media is much more than just blogging, and that tools like Twitter, Facebook, forums, and online photo- and video-sharing sites should also be considered and included in the guide. Patrick Karanja felt that one of the main objectives of the Blogging Positively project should be to spread more awareness that one can live long and healthy after being diagnosed with HIV. “Most of the information around is on prevention (which is very important)” he wrote, “but alone does little to eradicate stigma.” Lastly, several participants echoed that sections on anonymity and using SMS are important components.

Daudi suggested that a follow-up chat be scheduled for Monday February 9. We will confirm the date sometime over the next month.

Next Steps

  • If you are interested in participating in the creation and editing of the Blogging Positively guide to encourage HIV-positive individuals to start blogging, please sign up for our Blogging Positively mailing list.
  • If you know of any HIV positive bloggers who are not listed on our Google Map mashup, please email solana.larsen@gmail.com with their blog address and location.
  • Please mark your calendar for February 9th if you would like to participate in the follow-up chat. At that time we hope to have more progress on the AIDS-related Rising Voices projects and to have at least a draft of the Blogging Positively guide.
  • Please keep your eyes on the Rising Voices website to stay informed about how groups are using citizen media to promote dialogue about HIV and AIDS.
  • Finally, please write a post on your own blog about this conversation and about how citizen media can be used to help tackle one of the greatest challenges of our generation.

Thanks all! This coming Friday the newsletter will return to its original format with an exciting announcement about about our next round of microgrant funding. 🙂

Take good care,

David

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