Nashville has AIDS

Every four days, someone living in Middle Tennessee dies from AIDS. And every day another person is diagnosed with HIV infection or full-blown AIDS, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health. In an effort to turn these statistics around, Nashville CARES is taking a unique approach with the launch of a new viral marketing campaign to raise awareness in Middle Tennessee.

The Nashville Has AIDS campaign kicks off on September 3rd with a viral marketing component including digital, email and social media elements, in addition to a print element debuting in local entertainment media and venues.

The campaign is built around the stories of Middle Tennesseans, who have filmed short videos or sent letters about how HIV has touched their lives. A new microsite, www.ShareListenHelp.org, features short video clips of Nashvillians talking about their experience with HIV. They feature a woman whose brother had AIDS, a young lady whose teen-aged best friend died of AIDS, and Robert, who has been living with HIV for more then 20 years and is a retired Nashville radio personality.

As the young lady named Shakarii said in her video, “It’s not just in Africa. It’s here; it’s in your school; it’s on the street; it’s the person you could be behind in the grocery store. They could have AIDS and you would never know it.”

At the end of each video, the storyteller holds up a red sticker that reads “Nashville Has AIDS – ShareListenHelp.org”. The stickers are being distributed throughout Nashville and visitors to the microsite can sign up to receive a sticker.

 “The message of this campaign, is that HIV and AIDS touches everyone in the Nashville community whether they realize it or not. Nashville is a very caring community and we’re trying to touch people, to educate them about HIV, and maybe even move them to make a difference with support for Nashville CARES,” said Kate Haygood, Director of Marketing & Volunteers at Nashville CARES. “We partnered with redpepper to create this brand awareness campaign. We had never seen this kind of grassroots approach from any other ad agency. They brought a human touch to it that makes the message come alive.”

The ShareListenHelp.org microsite offers Nashvillians the opportunity to upload their own videos or letters and share their own stories about HIV, and provides a message board as a forum to build an online support community. Visitors to the site can listen to the stories of people touched by HIV and, most importantly, offers them the opportunity to help Nashville CARES by donating or volunteering.

On September 3rd, Nashvillians will begin seeing the Nashville CARES Graffiti ads in local restaurants, entertainment venues and fitness centers with the message Nashville Has AIDS. The ads are the handwritten words of people who have personally experienced the support of Nashville CARES.

In addition, Nashville CARES is partnering with The Nashville SCENE to distribute handwritten letters that carry the removable Nashville Has AIDS sticker at the bottom. The SCENE will insert one of four different letters into the September 5th issue.

“There are about 4,600 Middle Tennesseans who are currently living with HIV/AIDS,” said Nashville CARES CEO Joseph Interrante. “The mission of Nashville CARES is to offer support to those who are living with or are touched by HIV and to educate the public about the realities of this disease. By raising awareness about HIV through the Nashville Has AIDS campaign, we hope to help prevent the disease and build even greater community support for the Nashville CARES programs that touch more than 35,000 Middle Tennesseans annually.”

Over the next three months, Nashville CARES will also launch a donor relations campaign to share the stories of people who have been touched by Nashville CARES programs with donors, volunteers and supporters. Various elements of the campaign will be ongoing from the week of September 3 through the week of November 26, 2007. The campaign was timed to coincide with Nashville CARES’ two major fundraising events, AIDS Walk to be held on October 6 and Artrageous on November 10. For more information and to register for the AIDS Walk, please go to www.nashvilleaidswalk.com.

To donate, volunteer, or learn more about Nashville CARES, please visit www.ShareListenHelp.org.

About Nashville CARES

Nashville CARES, founded in 1985, provides education about HIV/AIDS and services for those who are living with or are otherwise touched by this disease. Services include public education, individual and group counseling, emergency housing, short-term rent, utility, transporation and food assistance, help with daily tasks, outpatient alcohol and drug treatment, and assistance with insurance premiums and medical and prescription copayments. Nashville CARES provides support to more than 2,200 HIV-infectedindividuals each year, and provides education to more than 35,000 children and adults annually to help them reduce their risk of HIV infection. Nashville CARES is supported by grants and financial gifts from community individuals, corporations and foundations, as well as hundreds of Middle Tennesseans who volunteer their time. For information about Nashville CARES services, or to donate or volunteer, please call the toll-free HEARTline at 800-845-4266 or visit www.nashvillecares.org.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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