With the Power of Social Media, ICAP Amplifies Undetectable=Untransmittable Message for People Living with HIV

Between July and September 2020, ICAP developed and implemented a U=U social media campaign in Myanmar in collaboration with the National AIDS Program (NAP) and community networks to raise awareness about the relationship between treatment adherence, viral suppression, eliminating the risk of transmitting HIV to others and, more broadly, to reduce the overall community stigma faced by people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Through the campaign, ICAP delivered key messages based on the CDC’s U=U Strategic Toolkit, including U=U information, the importance of routine VL testing and treatment retention, and stigma reduction in the community. Messages were disseminated through Facebook as well as through other popular media platforms, including print and radio. Among the most notable elements were two ear-catching songs, one of which featured two of Myanmar’s most famous pop singers and reached over 4.4 million views via Facebook within two weeks. The song received numerous positive comments from members of the PLHIV community and their supporters. Some HIV-related social media pages also conducted TikTok dance contests with these two songs, making the songs more viral among the community. In addition to the songs, campaign content in the form of graphics, thematic video and comics appeared on HIV-related pages around WAD 2020, augmenting the reach of U=U messaging. A chat feature was also made available through Facebook providing a way for people to pose questions about HIV/AIDS, VL testing and the U=U message, as well to receive information about HIV testing and treatment services. During the COVID-19 pandemic and Myanmar’s recent political crisis, the U=U Facebook page has been a widely used channel for PLHIV to access updated information on available ART facilities, as most of the facilities throughout the country have been affected by the concurrent crises.

ICAP’s innovative efforts to disseminate the U=U message have corrected misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and engaged target populations in testing and treatment services. By spreading the empowering message that PLHIV can eliminate the risk of transmitting HIV to others by taking ART and achieving viral suppression, this campaign has proved a promising tool for furthering the national response to achieve its NSP targets of 95-95-95.

Because of the success of U=U campaign, some local partners requested that ICAP share experiences and provide technical assistance to support expansion of the messaging in their projects. ICAP has shared its U=U resource materials – translated in the local language – to help raise awareness among communities as well as to provide training-of-trainers on U=U for HIV care providers to improve U=U literacy.

“When I first came across the U=U message, I was so overwhelmed with the joy that I could have cried. Before then, I felt hopeless regarding my married life and having children of my own. Now, (having received an undetectable viral load result), I have seen a ray of hope on how to positively deal with HIV and start a family of my own with my beloved,” Myanmar Positive Group (MPG) Board member said, after hearing the U=U message in MPG Board of Directors Meeting.