Using Social Media to Tackle HIV/AIDS epidemic

CJ GUION | Editor – In – Chief

African-Americans represent approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for an estimated 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2009. African American women make up a disproportionate number of those cases.

NCSU students Khalia Braswell, Kamar Galloway, and Jeremy Currence are providing assistance in a project funded by the National Science Project which will study the use of social media networks in promoting HIV and AIDS prevention education among African American female students. $252,360 was given to NC State University to conduct the study.

The National Science Foundation awarded a two-year grant supporting the project, which is being conducted at NC State and Pennsylvania State University. The researchers responsible for the NSF project are Dr. Fay Cobb Payton, (Grant PI, NC State University Poole College of Management), Dr. James Kiwanuka-Tondo, (Grant co-PI, NC State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences), and Dr. Lynette Kvansy (Grant co-PI, Information School at Penn State University).

“Being apart of the NSF project is very important to me because it impacts African-American college women. HIV/AIDS is spreading amongst our community and those who are being affected are not informed,” stated Khalia Braswell (Communications/Computer Science major). “I am excited to be able to use knowledge gained through coursework and experience to contribute to this project. Social action is very important to me and I look forward to impacting our community through this project.”

Braswell assists with the social media and web aspect of the project. Galloway serves as the Social media specialist.

“I joined the NSF project because it was an opportunity to solve a pressing issue in the African-African community. After hosting several on campus focus groups, it became apparent that the HIV/AIDS prevention education online content did not resonate with the African-American female population. As the project’s social media specialist, I am developing a interactive website that spreads awareness through a user friendly interface. My goal is to build a social media platform that is informative and is easy to navigate.” Kamar Galloway (Business Administration) stated.

Jeremy Currence recently joined the project and now serves as the webmaster and designer for the project website.

“I began working on the NSF project to do some work that actually makes a difference. I’m the webmaster and designer for the website, a task that’s new to me and my Computer Engineering experience. Sometimes internships can become tedious when you’re working on a piece of a project that you aren’t around to finish. I like working with my research team to promote HIV awareness/prevention because we’re reaching out to people directly, in a way that benefits us all. I’m working with some of the brightest people “ Currence (Computer Engineering) said.

The award began Sept. 1, 2011, and is expected to continue through August 31, 2013. The project title is: “Developing a Culturally Compelling Social Network Approach to HIV/AIDS Prevention for African American College Students.”

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