+ Snapchat: Using Storytelling to Increase HIV Awareness

May 30th, 2018 | Viewpoint

SHARE THIS is committed to piloting new digital tools and sharing best practices with partners, including government agencies and community organizations, to support their use of digital tools as they communicate about HIV/AIDS.  Along with Instagram, Facebook, and others, Snapchat is one of the most popular apps in the U.S. among 18- to 24-year-olds.[1] Given its reach and popularity, we recognized that it can be part of a comprehensive strategy to deliver HIV information and resources.

In observance of World AIDS Day, Snapchat’s news producers collaborated with to air a nationwide story on December 1, 2017 that showcased seven individuals living with HIV in the U.S. Story participants discussed the importance of taking their medication every day as prescribed and the importance of overcoming stigma and living the happiest life possible. One participant shared, “HIV doesn’t have me, I am in control.”

The Snapchat Story reached more than one million people across all 50 states with information about HIV and connected viewers to Locator.HIV.Gov, a location-based search tool that allows individuals to search for testing services, health centers and other service providers near their current location.

JSI, through, supported the development of this story by recruiting and supporting participants, providing facts and data on HIV and AIDS, and sharing recommendations for the World AIDS Day geofilters’ locations. Geofilters were placed in the ten U.S. communities where HIV and AIDS are most prevalent and was used more than 15,000 times. The purpose of the geofilters was to encourage people to share their own stories and to get involved in World AIDS Day. continues to explore ways to pilot novel digital tools to increase awareness of HIV. From our experience, Snapchat has the potential to be a very powerful public health tool, especially among youth.

JSI has led digital communications for since the project’s inception in 2006. Learn more about JSI’s role with

Written by staff 

[1] Smith, Aaron, and Monica Anderson. “Social Media Use in 2018.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. March 01, 2018. Accessed May 17, 2018.

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