CrowdOutAIDS: the next phase!
04 January 2012
In October 2011, UNAIDS launched CrowdOutAIDS, an online/offline collaborative project to ‘crowdsource’ the organization’s new youth strategy.
In the first two phases, youth networks and young people were connected via social media and eight online forums in seven languages were held in each region of the world, where young people debated key priories for youth and HIV.
Through this inclusive process, CrowdOutAIDS has engaged more than 20 000 young people from almost all countries, using mailing lists, Twitter, collective libraries on HIV and young people, and the forums. On World AIDS Day 2011, some 25 million people using the mircoblogging service Twitter were reached with key messages on HIV awareness under the CrowdOutAIDS banner.
To ensure that people who live in countries and communities where Internet penetration is low had an opportunity to contribute to the project, offline Open Forums were organized by volunteers, mobilized via the CrowdOutAIDS platform.
Reports from these offline Open Forums have come in from more than 30 countries, and participants include students, peer-educators and community workers, as well as key populations at higher risk such as young men who have sex with men, young people who use drugs, and young people living with HIV.
“The offline meet-ups have been a unique experience and the input provided has been insightful,” wrote Anthony Karanja Mute, Open Forum facilitator in Kenya in his report. ”This is the first clear indication by UNAIDS of the need to have inclusive and far reaching contribution by young people.”
The offline meet-ups have been a unique experience. This is the first clear indication by UNAIDS of the need to have inclusive and far reaching contribution by young people
Anthony Karanja Mute, CrowdOutAIDS Open Forum facilitator in Kenya
“Young people always feel marginalized and no one ever seeks to interact with them in a positive way. It’s my sincere hope that this will be the first of many such offline meet-ups,” wrote Mr Mute. “On a personal note this has been a fulfilling experience knowing that I was part of the greater good.”
The CrowdOutAIDS team is now preparing for the next phase that will see the Open Forum reports transformed into an actionable strategy. An online application to collect specific solutions to the challenges identified in the forums will be launched, and an independent drafting committee made up of young people who participated in the project is being selected. The drafting committee will collaboratively author the outcome document of CrowdOutAIDS via online tools during real-time drafting sessions.
CrowdOutAIDS case study: 2000 students have their say in Kazakhstan
A special round-table was organized by the Republican AIDS Center of Kazakhstan and the Students Debate Forum of Almaty to discuss how to overcome HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the country. The purpose of the meeting was also provide recommendations for UNAIDS’ new strategy on HIV and young people.
A lead-up debate series, which began on 11 November, was attended by more than 2000 students, followed by forums at 14 universities in seven regions of the country. The discussions continued on Facebook. In December, more than 90 young leaders from across the country gathered in Almaty to summarize their discussions and provide recommendations for the CrowdOutAIDS project.
The participation of young people in such discussions is not only important for raising HIV awareness among youth, but it is also a valuable source of new ideas and approaches for UNAIDS
Roman Gailevich, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Kazakhstan
The panelists concluded that one of the main causes of discrimination against people living with HIV is actually rooted in the campaign against HIV itself; scare tactics are often the main messages of media coverage on AIDS which stigmatizes people living with HIV.
Ignorance and misinformation about how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented was also raised as a concern. The students said that people continue to be afraid because they still do not know the basics about HIV.
“The participation of young people in such discussions is not only important for raising HIV awareness among youth, but it is also a valuable source of new ideas and approaches for UNAIDS,” said Roman Gailevich, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Kazakhstan.
The young people who participated in the Almaty meeting offered various suggestions on how to better disseminate heath-related information. “We are fed up with people lecturing us. Down with the boring posters! Go to where people search information: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube,” according to participants.
To find out more about CrowdOutAIDS and how to get involved, visit: www.crowdoutaids.org.