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30 Years of AIDS
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Event Planning Guide

The Department of Health and Human Services encourages organizations to observe the HIV/AIDS Awareness Days.

These tips will help local organizations to plan and implement awareness events. You know your community best, and you know what messages it most needs to hear. Use the ideas below to tailor your plans to meet your community’s needs.

If you work with other organizations to plan an event, you can help prevent the spread of HIV and build a local network that responds year-round to the epidemic.

Getting Started

Consider these questions and ideas as you decide to plan an event:

  • How can you raise awareness in your community in a way that reaches those most at risk and affected by the epidemic? What type of event would interest your target audience?
  • How can the unique voices in your community can add meaning to your plans? How can you incorporate the knowledge, skills, and interests of diverse voices, such as providers and youth?
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. The lead national organizations for the Days offer many useful tools, such as fact sheets, graphics, posters, and more.
  • Use the national theme to reinforce common messages.
  • Research what’s happening. Identify past local events, get advice and learn about new plans.
  • Reach out beyond traditional partners. Large employers, faith institutions, insurers, and other organizations may want to get involved.
  • Consider how new media can help you reach your target audience.
  • Plan ahead to reach out to the media and to evaluate your event.

Ideas for Local Events

  • Hold a public forum or town hall meeting to talk about the impact of HIV/AIDS in your community. Include the perspectives of people living with HIV.
  • Encourage your newspaper or schools to sponsor essay or other contests.
  • Hold a news conference with elected officials to raise public awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on your community. Ask other public officials and leaders to talk about the challenges in the response to the epidemic.
  • Invite elected officials to visit a local HIV/AIDS service organization.
  • Ask your mayor or elected official to send a letter/memorandum to all city employees about the Day, and to tell them of HIV testing sites. Ask your local leadership to issue a proclamation recognizing the Day.
  • Hold a cultural or faith-based event with speakers who can call attention to the local epidemic.
  • Submit an editorial or letter on local needs to your newspaper.
  • Encourage radio stations to air public service announcements.
  • Offer free HIV testing at a special event. Offer incentives to attend. Get tested yourself to set an example, or ask a local celebrity to take the test.
  • Organize a health fair to educate people about HIV/AIDS, testing options and other health issues.
  • Honor a local leader or organization for their response to the epidemic.

Promoting Your Event

  • Ask local media to report on the local impact of HIV/AIDS. Make yourself or other experts available to speak on local radio or TV shows.
  • Issue a media advisory and press release to encourage coverage of your event.
  • Register your event on the national lead organization’s site for the specific Day.
  • Publicize your event to community calendars, on TV, and through community centers, and neighborhood markets.
  • Add event information to your website, social network sites, your newsletter and to list servs.

After Your Event

  • Complete the evaluation requested by the national lead organization for the Day.
  • Send news releases to media representatives who didn’t attend your event.
  • Thank those who attended or contributed to your activities.
  • Write a follow-up article for your newsletter, board and community publications.
  • List the media and community leaders you invited, with notes for next year.
  • Submit a short narrative about your best practices and success to the national lead organization’s site.

Encouraging Individual Action

Local events are most successful when individual participants are encouraged to take action in response to HIV/AIDS. Here are some actions you can suggest.

  • Get tested for HIV.
  • Talk with your health care provider about your risks for HIV.
  • Learn about the risk factors for acquiring HIV.
  • Decide not to engage in high risk behaviors.
  • Practice safer methods to prevent HIV.
  • Talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Tell people about why this Day is important to you.
  • Talk about the epidemic’s impact on your community with friends and family.
  • Provide support to people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Volunteer at a local organization that serves people living with HIV.
  • Ask community leaders to increase their response to addressing the epidemic.
  • Get involved with or host an event for the Awareness Day in your community.
  • Help fund an event for the Day or support it with in-kind donations.
  • Visit AIDS.gov for information from the Federal government about HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, treatment, research, and using new media in response to HIV/AIDS.