Thursday, December 6, 2007

Empowering Youth Through Media Platforms

It isn’t something that you haven’t heard before. The sooner people know they have HIV, the sooner they can benefit from life-extending treatment and reducing the risk of infecting their partner. Well, that depends on whether they have health insurance or even access to health care but that is a different discussion.

In the US, there is an estimated 1 million people who are living with HIV and each year there is an estimated 40,000 new infections. Half of those new infections occur in those under 25 years of age.

The Millennia’s are equal to the numbers of Baby Boomers and yet it can be argued that, in large part, the HIV/AIDS messaging used to reach Baby Boomers the past 26 years has not changed that drastically as we try to reach today’s young adults.

We talk about youth and the future they represent. Corporations spend large amounts of money researching how to reach today’s youth as a market and a community but the non-profit sector has been slow to follow suit until the last few years.

Motorola knows about messaging and reaching today’s youth market. They are continually innovative and cutting-edge in their approach and execution. They have always been tremendously supportive of both Cable Positive and its mission. I think that is a large part of why I am excited that The Motorola Foundation is taking the fight to protect our youth head on by supporting the creation of The Youth AIDS Media Institute (YAMI), Cable Positive’s newest program, with the largest grant Cable Positive has ever received in its 16 year fight against HIV/AIDS.

YAMI’s mission is to teach young people how to communicate HIV/AIDS awareness messages to their peers and empower them to make a tangible impact in their communities regarding HIV and AIDS education, prevention and awareness. With Motorola’s help we are excited to instruct students at YAMI to use the power of multi-platform media campaigns.

Most teens either own or have access to a cellular phone, with the help of Motorola, there is no telling what kind of innovations we can accomplish in the fight against this disease. “The growing use of text messaging provides an important opportunity to link people with simple and portable health information,” said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS.

The details of YAMI will be unveiled at later today (Dec. 6th), along with a panel discussion exploring empowering youth through media advocacy, at the Paramount Pictures Screening Room in the Viacom Building in Manhattan. Later this month, the program will be launched on Cable Positive’s website and I encourage everyone to keep an eye out for that as it is truly an exciting new chapter in Cable Positive and its approach to addressing the epidemic.

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