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New Media Basics

What is Using New Media?

We define "new media" as interactive forms of communication that use the Internet, including podcasts, RSS feeds, social networks, text messaging, blogs, wikis, virtual worlds and more!

New media makes it possible for anyone to create, modify, and share content and share it with others, using relatively simple tools that are often free or inexpensive. New media requires a computer or mobile device with Internet access.

New media tools can help you:

  • CONNECT people with information and services. This includes connecting individuals with healthcare providers and people living with HIV with one another. New media can also connect the families, friends, and caregivers of people living with HIV ands AIDS to resources for their loved ones and themselves.
  • COLLABORATE with other people—including those within your organization or community.
  • CREATE new content, services, communities, and channels of communication that help you deliver information and services.

What do the Federal government, state and local health departments, AIDS service organizations, and individuals looking for information on HIV and AIDS have in common? They are all using new media tools to connect, collaborate, and create around HIV information and resources.

For examples of people using new media tools to respond to HIV, visit the AIDS.gov blog.

Who is Using New Media?

People of all ages and backgrounds are online and using new media tools for a variety of reasons such as searching for information and connecting with others.

We know that the many adults and teens in the U.S. use the Internet and many look for health information online. The Pew Internet & American Life Project Exit Disclaimer produces information about who is using the Internet and various new media tools. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a series of eHealth Data Briefs which contain recent data highlights and demographic breakdowns for several new media channels.

What about the "digital divide"?

There are several things we need to look at when considering who is online. While more Whites are online and using new media tools than Blacks, the gap has been decreasing over the past several years. There is a divide in Internet and new media use between Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults and other population groups in the U.S. The data is constantly changing – and there isn’t data available for all racial and ethnic groups – but the data from our colleagues at Pew Internet & American Life Project Exit Disclaimer and others show an increase in use among all groups.

Within the HIV community we know that more and more of our colleagues across the country (and around the world) are using new media tools to engage with their peers, clients, and supporters. For example, colleagues in San Francisco Exit Disclaimer are using text messaging to answer health questions and link teens to local clinics Exit Disclaimer. In Chicago and DC, our colleagues are using texting for HIV medication and appointment reminders. Our colleagues in Atlanta are providing people with electronic cards (ecards) to encourage HIV testing and other healthy behaviors.

Why New Media and HIV?

We know that people are online and looking for health information. New media provides us with opportunities to bring HIV information to our colleagues and clients, and reach our audiences in new ways. These tools can help us connect, create, and collaborate in response to HIV.

We launched AIDS.gov to help health departments, AIDS service organizations, people at-risk for HIV, and others easily find information on Federal domestic HIV programs, policies, and resources. Since then, more and more of our colleagues have become interested in how to use new media to disseminate HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and research information, and to engage with their audiences and each other.

To respond to this interest in new media information, we host the AIDS.gov blog to share examples and lessons learned from the field. We hope you’ll join the conversation there!

As with any communications tool, we encourage you to integrate your new media efforts into your overall planning.

Last revised: 06/05/2012