Metro Community Ministries Inc.

Voice of Hope

Public health

Voice of Hope will deliver HIV and AIDS education, information and preventing through youth visual and digital storytelling, community education, engagement, and peer information delivery.

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Lead Organization

Metro Community Ministries Inc.

El Cajon, California, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

The HIV and AIDs epidemic began in illness, fear and death as the world faced a new and unknown virus. Predisposed to greater risk-taking, adolescents are at an increased danger for negative consequences through substance use, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections. Behaviors and habits established during adolescence have ramifications that affect the quality of life and health. Over 50% of youth with HIV in the U.S. do not know they are infected, and in the U.S., those ages 13-24 accounted for 21% of new HIV diagnoses in 2015. Using Peer educators, Voice of Hope will promote digital storytelling, derived from traditions of West African cultures, to educate youth on the impact of HIV. Through social media and marketing, Voice of Hope will promote the youth’s artistic formation. Digital storytelling will focus on creating a first-hand message of hope, with an underlying educational component, to promote HIV education and awareness.

Problem Statement

Voice of Hope was designed to help youth recognize they are not alone in their plight through the HIV infection process, which continues to be prevalent among the homosexual population, but is also running rampant with heterosexual youth. The thought that engaging in sexual practices that does not involve intercourse will maintain safety is common misconception. Discovering a positive HIV status creates confusion concern, and inaction. This leads to the HIV infection progressing to AIDs due to lack of interventions and treatment. Delivery of preventative information to youth, by youth, via digital storytelling through website, social media and in person presentations will be more readily accepted than information delivered by older, professional individuals, who may be perceived as judgmental. Additionally, young people with positive HIV status may not want to disclose because of peer and public perception, fearing rejection of their peers, friends and family members. By creating opportunities for peer education and support, youth will be better prepared to seek services and treatment, protecting themselves and their partners through education. Voice of Hope has seen the impact of HIV/AIDS on our community’s youth; worldwide, there are 36.9 million adults and 1.8 million children infected. The US is in the top 25 countries with the highest rates of HIV; it affects individuals from a cross sector of age, race and socioeconomic status. Approximately 75% of people living with HIV globally were aware of their HIV status, and 25% (over 9 million people) still need access to HIV testing services.

Solution Overview

Voice of Hope will recruit young people to provide peer digital storytelling, with seven core elements: point of view-author perspective; dramatic question- answered by the story; emotional content-serious issues that speak personally and powerfully; the gift of voice-personalizing the story; power of the soundtrack-music/sounds supporting the storyline; economy-just enough information to get the point across, and pacing-story progression. Storytelling is impactful in the effect and longevity of culture, and how its core remains. Voice of Hope believes in strength of knowledge and collaboration for HIV prevention and reduction. Involvement with community health and service organizations, collaboratives and community councils is priority. Digital storytelling will focus on creating a first-hand message of hope, with an underlying educational component, to promote HIV education and awareness, by creating a message for youth, by youth, and distributed in a format that is easily accepted and promoted. Youth will share life stories of the process of getting tested, how they contracted HIV, how they found out they were HIV positive and what they’ve done about it, summarizing the presentation by describing the networks of support that have gathered as encouragement. Digital stories will contain information on the importance of getting tested, protective methods, and the importance of early identification and treatment. Extended partnerships connect with key community organizations to provide educational workshops on the impact of HIV. Peer Educators provide sessions to group leaders, community advocates and service providers, promoting a message of support, and connections that are vital to continued health and well-being.

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