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HHS' AIDS.gov to Use Blogs, Virtual Worlds, and Social Networks to Deliver HIV Information for World AIDS Day 2008
Date:11/25/2008

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The HHS Office of HIV/AIDS Policy's AIDS.gov will recognize the 20th annual World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 with a special focus on reducing HIV/AIDS-related stigma and promoting HIV testing through blogs, virtual worlds, and social networks. This World AIDS Day will also mark the second anniversary of AIDS.gov, an online gateway to all federal domestic HIV/AIDS information and resources.

AIDS.gov is partnering with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Blog Catalog, a social network for bloggers, to host "Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day," a blogging call to action. On Dec. 1, bloggers from across the United States and around the world will write about HIV/AIDS.

AIDS.gov will give an online presentation about HIV/AIDS in Second Life, a computer-based, 3-D virtual world. The National Library of Medicine, people living with HIV/AIDS, and others are organizing this event along with several other Second Life World AIDS Day events. Activities will include presentations, displays, virtual red ribbons, candle lighting memorial ceremonies, and more.

AIDS.gov will link people to HIV testing information, a critical component to curbing this epidemic, across all of their World AIDS Day activities and as part of their ongoing efforts. To find local HIV testing locations, people can send a text message with their ZIP code to "KNOWIT" (566948) or can visit http://www.hivtest.org. More than 33 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with HIV, including 1 million in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention's recently published national HIV incidence (new infections) data, an estimated 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in 2006.

"Stigma continues to be one of the biggest obstacles to tackling this epidemic -- many people still aren't willing to talk about HIV or take an HIV test," said Miguel Gomez, director of AIDS.gov. In response, AIDS.gov developed the "Facing AIDS for World AIDS Day 2008" campaign. The campaign encourages online social network members to upload pictures of themselves wearing red ribbons, the symbol of AIDS, and to post these photos and HIV testing information on their social network profiles on World AIDS Day. The campaign aims to reduce stigma and to promote HIV testing by showing the faces of real people who care about HIV/AIDS and are willing to share the message with their friends and family.

To learn more about AIDS.gov's World AIDS Day activities, visit: http://www.aids.gov/world_aids_day.html

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at: http://www.hhs.gov/news


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SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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