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PUBH 6127 Public Health Policy- Social Media Channels

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Using Social Media Channels to Communicate Public Health Messages

Think, for a moment, about how dramatically communication has evolved over your lifetime. Were you born in a pre-Internet, pre-cell phone world? Do you remember a time when your phone calls had to be completed within a 3- to 6-foot radius of a rotary phone, because you were tethered by a phone cord?

One of the essential services of public health agencies is to inform, educate, and empower the public about health-related issues. Public health agencies, like all organizations in the modern world, must adapt to the new era of ubiquitous technology to communicate with the public. Newspaper and network news broadcasts, once essential communication tools, are quickly being eclipsed by social media. In 2012, almost 35% of 18- to 24-year-olds used social media to receive their news (Sasseen, Olmstead, & Mitchell, 2013).

Public health officials have begun using social media outlets to communicate important messages:

Sari Setiogi was worried. In the wake of the Japanese earthquake back in March 2011, panic about the effects of a possible radiation leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant had caused a number of rumours to spring up on social networking site Twitter.
Chief among them was the misconception that drinking iodized wound cleaner and consuming large quantities of iodized table salt would reduce the effects of radiation (rather than potassium iodine tablets taken before exposure, which is recommended). Setiogi learned that people had started stockpiling salt in China. One person had built up a five-year supply. It was time for her to act. 
The joint efforts paid off. [For our part] we tweeted asking people not to eat excessive amounts of table salt because it leads to hypertension, and within a couple of days wed heard people had run back to the shops and asked for refunds for the salt! Setiogi says. People retweeted our message and the number of messages telling people to buy the salt went down. (Mixed Uptake of Social Media, 2011)

In this assignment, you analyze a current public health marketing campaign. you describe the message and target audience for the campaign, analyze the rationale behind the decision to deliver the message via social media, and apply your knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of different public health agencies.

Select an existing public health marketing campaign delivered through social media.

Explain elements of the message that indicate the target audience.

Identify the organizations responsible for creating the message and explain how the message contributes to fulfillment of this agency's essential services.

Provide a brief rationale for the campaign being delivered through social media.

Explain how the campaign might promote existing policy, influence development of new policy, or modify existing policy.

Identify additional agencies that could partner with the identified agency to reinforce this health message.


Key elements of public health marketing campaigns delivered through social media

‘HIV Treatment Works’ is a specific public health marketing campaign for people living with HIV in the United States. The aim of this campaign is to encourage people living with HIV to get in care, stay in care and live well. This is done through sharing the message of people living with HIV and how they manage to live well with HIV. It gives the message that how adhering to the care and treatment supports people stay healthy, live longer and protect others too (HIV Treatment Works 2017). 

Identification of organization and explain how the message contributes to fulfillment of agency’s service

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is responsible for creating the message of the ‘HIV Treatment Works’. The CDC is national public health agency of the United States and its main goal is to protect the health and safety of public by means of controlling and preventing disease and disability in the US (Mission, Role and Pledge| About | CDC 2017). Hence, the above campaign and its message is in alignment with the main goal of the organization. The campaign reflects CDC’s focus on health promotion, designing educational activities and preventing diseases to improve the overall health of United States citizen (HIV Treatment Works 2017). CDC has partnered with the social service providers including the case managers and social workers to give the message to people living with HIV regarding how they can overcome barriers associated with the disease and encourage them to continue with the treatment. Therefore, CDC work to enhance the health security of the United States (Mission, Role and Pledge| About | CDC 2017).

Rationale for campaign being delivered through social media

The ‘HIV Treatment Works’ was mainly delivered through social media because through social media people can easily access the message and the message reaches out to large audience group. The sharing of personal experience of people living with HIV helps other affected people to related to their issues and it empowers them to seek support and enhance their quality of life too. This features in the campaigns leads to relatedness or social connectedness among the public. Social media tools promote the interactivity and multi-directional flow of information to target audience. It has the advantage of tailoring the message according to the needs of the desired audience and engages them to support healthy behavior. Another advantage is that this message is readily accessible to the audience due to the popularity of the social media platforms like Facebook, twitter and You Tube (Heldman, Schindelar, & Weaver, 2013).

Role of campaign in new policy development

The ‘HIV Treatment Work’ campaign can have implications for policy development in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention. This is because the campaign focused on directing the people with HIV to appropriate resources to manage their care and treatment. Hence, policy regarding leadership development may be required in US to the address HIV/AIDS and control the HIV pandemic. Well-trained leaders in health care may support developmental activities related to the campaign and so the campaign may influence the policy related to leadership development for HIV prevention. Health care policy related to effective leadership structure will promote social justice and strengthen response to the HIV/AIDS campaign. The leader should have such characteristics that they understand and maintain the momentum against the pandemic. They can help to modify policies to contribute to the uptake of HIV care related programs. By the means of leadership development policies, racial disparities related to HIV and new HIV case among African Americans can be addressed (Nunn et al., 2015).

Role of additional agencies in reinforcing the message

The main aim of the ‘HIV Treatment Work’ campaign is support people with HIV to make decisions related to treatment and guide them to programs that helps them to make decisions regarding medical care and treatment. Furthermore, to encourage people to continue with the treatment, they educate the public regarding the different options of care and understanding the cost of treatment. There is also support guidance regarding staying healthy through the healthy diet, family planning physical activity and good mental health Understand (How HIV Treatment Works and Stay in Care 2017). Several other local organizations can also help CDC to reinforce the public health message among the people living with HIV and support them to manage their HIV-related health issues. For example, several AIDS Institute and AIDS Network in different cities may helps in making the campaign a success.


Heldman, A. B., Schindelar, J., & Weaver III, J. B. (2013). Social media engagement and public health communication: implications for public health organizations being truly" social". Public Health Reviews, 35(1), 1.

HIV Treatment Works.  (2017).  Helping People Living with HIV Get in Care. Stay in Care. Live Well..  Retrieved 3 April 2017, from

Mission, Role and Pledge| About | CDC. (2017). Retrieved 3 April 2017, from

Nunn, A., Sanders, J., Carson, L., Thomas, G., Cornwall, A., Towey, C., ... & Smith, T. (2015). African American community leaders’ policy recommendations for reducing racial disparities in HIV infection, treatment, and care: results from a community-based participatory research project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Health promotion practice, 16(1), 91-100.

Understand How HIV Treatment Works and Stay in Care. (2017). HIV Treatment Works. Retrieved 3 April 2017, from

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