Using New Media to Prevent Substance Abuse and HIV for Populations at High Risk

Dates: 2013-2014

State: New York

Client(s): SAMHSA

Service: Health Communication

Technical Expertise: Substance Use, HIV & Infectious Diseases

This project was designed to create a greater awareness about substance abuse and mental health issues, particularly as they relate to HIV and AIDS. The project reduced stigma around these three issues, to make HIV testing more accessible, accepted, and commonplace, and to open lines of communication between groups of individuals that will help keep them engaged, educated, and up-to-date on topics that impact them, their peers, and the community.

JSI was subcontracted to work with Iris House, an AIDS-service organization serving residents of Harlem, New York, on the project. Together they recruited and trained 80 young MSM of color peer mentors in Central and East Harlem and in the South Bronx, to participate in a new and innovative two-pronged program that intertwines direct street interaction with a comprehensive program involving both Iris House social media sites and the personal networks of the peer mentors.

Messaging was driven by six special awareness day events, but also encompassed a broader range of topics that ultimately served the goals around awareness, increased testing, reduced stigma, and reduced discrimination around the topics of substance abuse, mental health, and HIV and AIDS.