The Maine Department of Health and Human Services - Yolanda H. Caraway

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Yolanda Caraway, often described as a change catalyst, has over 30 years of experience with policy-making, public affairs, as well as with national and international political matters. Often sought after to coordinate major activities for the Democratic Party, as well as private organizations, her list of professional achievements showcases years of organizational ability and management expertise.

Yolanda and her team have played an instrumental role in helping companies navigate their way through turbulent times. One of the orgainziations they worked closely with was the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

We did an interview with Yolanda to learn more about this case, you can read it below.

Maine is home to over 1,000 HIV-positive individuals, and an estimated 350–450 more may be unknowingly infected. This is said to be the largest jump in HIV-positive cases since 2005. How did you effectively tackle such a sensitive, important campaign?

“The rise in HIV-positive cases in Maine was astonishing. In response to the increase in HIV infections, the State of Maine sought to create a social marketing campaign to raise HIV prevention awareness and testing resources among men who have sex with men (MSMs). This is when we stepped in.

“We developed the “Deserve to Know ME” campaign to address current HIV risk for MSMs living in Maine. The campaigned relied on educational materials, radio, and the internet. We aimed to provide message saturation in target markets, resulting in modified behavior to decrease HIV infection and exposure.

“Throughout the campaign, the message penetrated to the target populations was clear: “be responsible” and, “others deserve to know.” The campaign consisted of many components, which kept these messages highly visible. The most effective HIV education and prevention public information strategies targeting MSMs have proven to be those involving images and language cues that are particular to the MSM community. MSM community members have a unique perspective that is best used in discussing the social and cultural impact of sexual practices and HIV testing. It was within this cultural context that MSMs successfully engaged and encouraged to seek knowledge, disclose status, and use condoms.

“Reaching such a specific target audience was a very interesting challenge — it required research and a unique perspective.”

Thank you for sharing, Yolanda.

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