Researchers Use TikTok To Explain And Spread HIV Awareness

Researchers Use TikTok To Explain And Spread HIV Awareness
Image: The Knowledge Translation project aims to provide simple information about HIV to those who are living with it. Photo: supplied

Social media has become a new platform for the public to learn more and understand the HIV virus, thanks to a Knowledge Translation (KT) project.

While Monkeypox has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, the original virus that had a deep impact on the LGBTQ+ community, HIV, hasn’t stepped to the sidelines. And with the lack of media attention on the subject, many can be left uninformed about HIV and not understand the medical jargon.

Thankfully, the Australian HIV Community have taken advantage of TikTok’s popularity to create videos, memes and more to help Australians better understand the complex research and nature of HIV, whether they have it or not.

The quick, simple, and easy information is being produced by HIV community advocates such as Beau Newham, Heather Ellis and Anthony McCarthy. As part of their KT project, the trio use TikTok to translate complicated ideas, research, and data into simpler terms.

@peersexplain Did you know your relationship with your doctor can have a direct impact on your health? This explainer was made by people living with #HIV – Anth, Beau and Heather – and was made to help share some of the messages from a research paper that explored the unmet treatment needs among #peoplelivingwithhiv ♬ original sound – Peers Explain

Videos Can Empower People With HIV

McCarthy, an HIV advocate has said that utilizing the engagement offered by social platforms like TikTok can help empower those living with HIV.

“Translating important findings from key academic papers into accessible language, and using engaging visual media such as videos, memes and gifs to capture attention, has helped educate, inform and ultimately empower people living with HIV,” McCarthy said.

The (KT) project had been presented at the recent International AIDS Conference and has been funded by ViiV Healthcare and the National Association of People Living with HIV.

Researcher Breaks Down KT Project

The Star Observer spoke with one of the trio, Heather Ellis, who is the Communications and Engagement Coordinator at Positive Women Victoria, HIV community advocate and project contributor, about the project.

“Knowledge translation can help translate often complicated information, especially healthcare information, which is not well known in Australia. With HIV, there is new scientific data released all the time and often this data, which is vital to improving the health of people living with HIV, does not reach the HIV community,” Ellis said.

“What has emerged from this KT project on the research on person-centred care, is the ongoing need for KT to be applied to research that relates to HIV. But we should not just stop with HIV, as KT needs to be applied to all research that relates to other health conditions.”

“This research is often complicated to understand but using my journalism skills I can translate this into an easily understandable summary and what its impact is on the health of people living with HIV. Two such studies were on the benefits of Vitamin K2 for improving cardiovascular health and tomato paste for improving gut health – two health issues that people living with HIV face.”

TikTok Used To Reach Younger Members

The idea to utilise TikTok in order to reach younger members of the HIV community came from Newham and McCarthy. Since the videos started, Ellis noted that the KT project has “opened up discussion and raised awareness of healthcare rights.”

“This peer-led KT project was designed to reach as many people living with HIV as possible by keeping the video short and using easily understood English,” Ellis told the Star Observer.

“The idea was to get the message of the importance of person-centred care as a result of the study. And this would then stimulate interest for the viewer to speak to their doctor or healthcare providers.”

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