Society & Culture

UGA’s New Media Institute Fighting HIV infection with mobile media

UGA’s New Media Institute Fighting HIV infection with mobile media

Athens, Ga. – Delivering health messages to young people can be a real challenge. A team from the University of Georgia’s New Media Institute soon will travel to Philadelphia to explore how mobile media technology can be used to deliver such messages, specifically information related to the fight against AIDS.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, five NMI students will team up with students and faculty from four universities, three AIDS organizations and Verizon Communications to develop AIDS Personal Public Service Announcements. The project will test a new mobile production model to create messages that can be sent to young people’s cell phones encouraging them to be tested for HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS).

“A whole generation isn’t using their parent’s media,” said Scott Shamp, director of the New Media Institute and professor of telecommunications at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Mobile media has powerful potential for reaching young people with information to help them stay healthy and protect others.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over a quarter of a million people in the United States are living with HIV and don’t know it. These unknowing HIV-infected persons cannot take advantage of effective new therapies to extend both the quality and length of their lives. These individuals are also at greater risk of spreading the virus. Despite the benefits of being tested, young people are still reluctant to do so.

The AIDS Personal Public Service Announcement Project will pioneer the use of new mobile media technology to address the challenge of AIDS education. The project will demonstrate a fast and cost-effective way to produce highly-targeted messages about health care issues that are optimized for the communication medium young people use the most-the cell phone.

Three student teams from the University of Georgia, University of South Carolina and Temple University will have one day to collaborate with professional producers to create one minute videos, or Personal Public Service Announcements, encouraging HIV testing. The student teams, armed with backpack-sized mobile production studios, will set out at 9 a.m. to collect audio and video footage around the city of Philadelphia.

Throughout the day, the teams will use Verizon’s wireless network to push their raw footage to remote producers. At 4 p.m. the student teams will stop collecting footage and the producers will have until 7 p.m. to finish their one-minute videos. All of the Personal Public Service Announcements will be premiered at 8 p.m. on Nov. 7 and will be available for immediate downloading to cell phones.

“As a leading technology company, Verizon is committed to partnering with institutions of higher learning as we explore ways to use our technology in a cutting-edge way,” stated Michelle Robinson, Verizon’s senior vice president for the Southern region. “We are thrilled to partner with Georgia’s flagship university and specifically UGA’s New Media Institute on this important project.”

On Thursday, Nov. 8, contributors to the AIDS Personal Public Service Announcement Project will participate in a panel discussion at the International Digital Media and Arts Association Conference ( being held in Philadelphia.

Equipment, connectivity and funding for the AIDS Personal Public Service Announcement Project are being provided by Verizon Communications. The New Media Institute is the coordinating organization and Shamp serves as the project’s executive producer. Karla Berry, associate professor of media arts at the University of South Carolina, is the creative producer in charge of coordinating remote producers. LeAnn Erickson, associate professor of film and video production at Temple University, will coordinate mobile student teams in the field as mobile producer.

The remote producers for the project will be Pam Ezell, Chapman University; Amy Shumaker, South Carolina ETV; and Marius Valdes, University of South Carolina.

Consultation on issues pertaining to AIDS and HIV infection will be provided by the Centers for Disease Control (; Philadelphia FIGHT (; the Youth Health Empowerment Project (; the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (; and the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta (

For more information on the AIDS Personal Public Service Announcement Project and a full list of participants and consulting organizations, visit

Founded in 2000, the New Media Institute is an interdisciplinary teaching and research unit of the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The NMI explores the creative, critical and commercial dimensions of innovative digital communication technology.

Verizon Communications Inc., headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. For more information, visit