Shimla: Facebook page for Red Ribbon Club was launched on 6 December at Vividh Edutech at Dharamshala as part of an innovative approach to rope in social media for HIV prevention. The launch ceremony involved over 50 youth clad in red, making a human red ribbon formation at Zonal Hospital, Dharamshala. The forum http://www.facebook.com/redribbonclub will bring together youth of Red Ribbon Clubs, AIDS activists, and experts to share ideas, connect, collaborate, create, and engage around HIV AIDS.
Internet and social media are widely used by young people everywhere. Social media is used for communication for keeping in touch, making new friends, and sharing content. These tools have the potential to deliver HIV prevention programmes in a cost-effective way to young people through a media that they are already using. With more than 7000 people newly infected with HIV everyday and 3,000 young people aged 15 to 24 becoming infected with HIV on a daily basis, social media is leveraged as an ideal medium to mobilize young people in preventing HIV infections & getting to Zero.
District AIDS Programme Officer Dr RK Sood applauding the initiative shared that it is absolutely critical that we engage young people – not as recipients of our message but as the actors and creators in the process of change. It is a part of a strategy to inspire and catalyze young people to use social media to ignite an HIV prevention revolution, he added. Social media offers adequate anonymity to these people who are often not comfortable coming to a community event. Reacting to concerns of low internet penetration, Ashish Bhagoria from Vividh Edutech stated, “We have to use this technology to educate, engage and empower people and we can take this to offline action!” He further said that a free workshop for youth of Red Ribbon Clubs will be held on e-skills, including website design this month in collaboration with HP SACS.
A project, CrowdOutAIDS.org, run by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) also uses social media platforms to facilitate the development of new policies to combat the pandemic. Young people will be able to share their ideas and proposals for the strategy. Youth will create and shape the new United Nations strategy on youth and HIV/AIDS. The initiative’s name alludes to the popular concept of crowdsourcing, which consists of letting large undefined groups of people collaborate and come up with innovative solutions for tasks traditionally performed by individuals.