ALPHARETTA, GA — The message about the importance of HIV testing is getting out to the general public, thanks to the innovative use of wireless communications. Verizon Wireless, the company with the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, announced today its continued effort to draw awareness to the importance of HIV testing and encourage everyone to know their status. In honor of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, an annual event organized by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), Personal Public Service Announcements (PPSAs) created from "man on the street" interviews captured in Atlanta using wireless video phones and technology will be broadcast via a variety of channels on the Web, television and through the Verizon Wireless network.
In partnership with the University of Georgia's New Media Institute and with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Verizon Wireless participated in events in Atlanta and Philadelphia over the past year, making wireless phones a new medium in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The use of the PPSAs created at the Atlanta event for National HIV Testing Day is the culmination of those efforts.
"It's exciting to see how wireless equipment and our network can capture and make available critical health messages to the public at large," said Jeff Mango, president of the Georgia/Alabama region for Verizon Wireless. "Wireless technology no longer is just a one-to-one communication tool. It serves a much broader social networking role in our individual lives and in our communities. It's critical that we all continue to harness the power and reach of wireless technology for the greater good."
In both Philadelphia in 2007 and Atlanta in 2008, public service announcement videos were created by college students and delivered on personal mobile media devices. Using Verizon Wireless phones and data equipment, student teams from Emory University, the University of South Carolina, Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Temple University, Chapman University, and the University of North Texas collaborated during each event with health experts from the CDC, as well as professional producers and editors from around the country, to shoot, edit, produce, and premiere short video PPSAs encouraging HIV testing. These PPSAs will be distributed ahead of June 27 to increase the awareness of the upcoming National HIV Testing Day.
The videos will be distributed in a variety of ways including e-cards, podcasting on key Internet sites, e-mail distribution, YouTube, MySpace, Verizon Wireless' V CAST network, Verizon Communications FiOS network, and more.
"Delivering health messages to young people today can be frustrating," said Dr. Scott Shamp, director of the New Media Institute and professor of telecommunications at UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. "A whole generation isn't using their parents' media, so we have to find new ways to reach them. Mobile media has powerful potential for reaching young people with information to help them stay healthy and protect others."
National HIV Testing Day is an opportunity for people nationwide to learn their HIV status and to gain knowledge to take control of their health and their lives. According to the CDC, more than a quarter million people are estimated to be living with HIV and are unaware of their infection. Often those infected exhibit no visible symptoms and are more likely to pass the virus to others. Knowing infection status can lengthen life expectancy dramatically as patients are able to start treatment earlier.
About The New Media Institute at the University of Georgia
The New Media Institute is an interdisciplinary unit of the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The institute explores the creative, critical and commercial dimensions of innovative digital communication technology. For more information, visit www.nmi.uga.edu.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 67.2 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 69,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, go to: www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.