UNAIDS - 4 January 2012
In October 2011, UNAIDS launched CrowdOutAIDS, an online/offline
collaborative project to 'crowdsource' the organization's new
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."
"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
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 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,
Related feature stories
UN Secretary General urges continued commitment to aid towards "new cooperation partnership" (29 November 2011) - http://www.aegis.org/news/unaids/2011/UN111129.html
Costa Rica: Ambitious youth HIV project reaping results (14 November 2011) - http://www.aegis.org/news/unaids/2011/UN111112.html
Addressing the needs of young people critical as world population reaches 7 billion, says UNFPA report (26 October 2011) - http://www.aegis.org/news/unaids/2011/UN111021.html
CrowdOutAIDS - http://www.crowdoutaids.org/