AIDSVu: Mapping the HIV Epidemic in the US
GA recognized the steep decline in media coverage on the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic in recent years, and approached client Gilead Sciences, Inc. with an idea: build a world-class, interactive map to show the intensity of the epidemic across the country, while localizing the disease for media, stakeholders and legislators. The theory: making data about HIV widely available, locally relevant and easy-to-understand would reignite awareness and lead to a renewed interest in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The alarming infrequency of media coverage of domestic HIV/AIDS was hindering public knowledge of the severity of the epidemic. GA identified a renowned research team from Emory University to lead the project and, with ongoing support from Gilead, began working with Emory to create AIDSVu.
GA worked with the AIDSVu team to create an Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Group comprised of subject-matter experts and advocates for HIV/AIDS. Media messaging focused on using the map to understand HIV infection rates at the local level.
Prior to the AIDSVu launch, GA conducted briefings with key groups to prepare them for media and public inquiries. These groups included the CDC, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), patient advocacy organizations and all 50 state health departments and their media officers.
GA made the strategic recommendation to launch AIDSVu on June 1, 2011 – four days before the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS in the U.S. This helped to integrate AIDSVu into the significant media coverage surrounding the 30th anniversary. To maximize coverage and referrals to the website, GA provided the embargoed press release to a number of key traditional news and new media outlets.
To unveil AIDSVu, GA designed an event combining the unique visual and technological experience of AIDSVu with expert speakers from ONAP; Kaiser Family Foundation; and the Washington, D.C. Department of Health. The launch was streamed live on AIDSVu.org.
The AIDSVu’s launch kept HIV/AIDS as a front-page story well after the 30th anniversary of the first reported
AIDS cases in the U.S. GA secured more than 176 million media impressions in the five months following the launch. Coverage included features in top-tier outlets, including:
• USA Today: Two front-page stories by former chief medical reporter Steve Sternberg
• Huffington Post
• FOX News
• Five leading state dailies: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Orlando Sentinel, New Haven Register, Baltimore Sun Online and Washington Examiner
The digital and social media results for AIDSVu were substantial:
• 77,626 visits to AIDSVu.org in the first week
• 616,130 Twitter impressions on launch day