Increasing Access to HIV/AIDS Information in Rwanda and Uganda through Social Media: a Call to Action for Health Librarians

NAMULEME, Robinah Kalemeera and TARPLEY, Margaret J. and UMUTESI, Annonciatte and UMUBYEYI, Marguerite (2017) Increasing Access to HIV/AIDS Information in Rwanda and Uganda through Social Media: a Call to Action for Health Librarians. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 162 - Health and Biosciences Libraries.

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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Increasing Access to HIV/AIDS Information in Rwanda and Uganda through Social Media: a Call to Action for Health Librarians

An ethnographic study on HIV/AIDS information behaviour conducted by the lead author in Sheffield, England among persons affected personally or indirectly by HIV/AIDS included British nationals, Africans, Europeans, and Americans revealed that people used the Internet for information such as the disease itself, transmission routes, and socio-economic aspects of living with HIV. However, this research also revealed that people felt Internet information-seeking had attached stigma and was often a source of contradicting, misleading, outdated, inaccurate, or excessively-technical information. Using this research as a backdrop for analysing online HIV information sources in Rwanda and Uganda, HIV resources were searched as a member of the public might search with Google and Facebook, for local-language materials as well as English. Disappointing examples for Rwanda include: a Google site offering a free DVD in Kinyarwanda by post on caring for an HIV/AIDS person rather than immediate access; a site with Kinyarwanda information described by one user as inadequate; and free educational materials requiring registration. For Uganda one group offered digital literacy help to find English-language materials because that is the official language. Searching Twitter with “HIV Rwanda” and “HIV Uganda” led to several sites with mostly English but some local language responses and stigma was addressed. Facebook had less than expected information focused on the two countries. Most encouraging was Yahoo link to video in Kinyarwanda from a recognized source. This overview suggests that African health information librarians should participate in the creation as well as discovery of relevant information in languages and formats easily accessible to the public for distribution on Social Media in addition to the Internet and the social media. The health librarian is uniquely positioned to serve as a link between reliable, language-appropriate medical information and the lay public who often have mobile phones even if they have no computer access.

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