HIV/AIDS awareness spread throughout social media

Young people throughout the Caribbean have participated in an online video competition to help spread the message of safe sex to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV.

In an attempt to address the growing numbers on HIV/AIDS cases in the region, the non-profit organisation PSI Caribbean hosted a region-wide competition to find its next “Got it? Get it” brand ambassadors. The competition opened 1 April, 2012 with PSI Caribbean asking Caribbean youth aged 18-30 to create three-minute videos based on the theme ”Getting to Zero”.

“We have rallied together and have made huge strides forward in research, prevention, and treatment of this disease. This has brought us to a pivotal moment where we are, for the first time, daring to voice the reality that we can turn the tide and end HIV/AIDS,” said Cory McCullough, social media manager for Trinidad-headquartered PSI Caribbean and its “Got it? Get it” youth brand.

“Getting to Zero was the theme selected by the World AIDS Campaign to commemorate last year’s World AIDS Day. The new theme, which will be used until 2015, aspires to “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths,” Ms McCullough said.

The Caribbean has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world, falling just behind sub-Saharan Africa. More than 240,000 people within the Caribbean region are infected with HIV/AIDS.

Young people throughout the Caribbean submitted their video entries and the two winners were Marlon Thompson from Jamaica and Sendy-Ann Bethune from Antigua.

The newly crowned brand ambassadors will join the Got it? Get it. crew on an all-expenses paid trip to Grenada during the island’s popular Spice Mas Carnival.

As part of the brand ambassador programme, Mr. Thompson and Ms Bethune will continue to spread awareness in their home countries, by working with “Got it? Get it” educators and the local planned parenthood affiliates to conduct educational outreach. They will also be featured in radio and TV interviews that will be aired throughout 
the region.

Their journey will be captured via posts on the “Got it? Get it” Facebook page.

“As we saw from last year’s campaign, the power of Facebook is huge. PSI really capitalises on the reach they can get with social media to reach youth that share a commonality but are separated by geographical barriers,” said Gisselle Ramsaran of Caribbean Ideas, PSI’s digital media provider.

Other category winners of the Brand Ambassador 2012 competition included Goodwin Charles from St. Vincent who won the Best Message Category with his Each One Teach One concept. Michael Benjamin from Antigua was awarded the prize for Most Passionate entry and Akeem Phillip from Trinidad and Tobago submitted the winning entry in the Most Creative Submission category.

The Brand Ambassador video submissions, including the winning entries, can be viewed at www.youtube.com/gotitgetitsafesex.

The “Got It? Get It” brand is unusual in that it is not linked to a product, but endeavours to represent and promote a positive behaviour change message of condom use and to symbolise condom accessibility. PSI Caribbean strives to make condom access universal and to spread the idea that HIV should never be a source of shame.

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