The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, in partnership with, held a one-day forum on social media, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections (STI) that turned out to be an unfiltered discussion of love, truth, and technology.

Why was it so smoking hot? And is this unique to conferences (or panels) about sexual health?

Maybe it was because it was a room full of public health advocates who are very comfortable talking about “unmentionables.” (How many speakers have you seen ask an audience, “We’ve all had sex in a public bathroom right?”)

Maybe it was because speaker after speaker talked about the power of small groups to make a difference:

  •‘s research showed that while the MSM (men having sex with men) population wants anonymous information, teen girls want to know who is giving advice about their birth control and STI-prevention options. So peer advisors were trained to create 90- to 180-second videos to let their own personalities shine through.
  • Harm Reduction Coalition’s videos promoting condom use in the context of  drug use brought a dose of nightclub reality to the conversation.
  • HIV CIE provides continuing medical education for physicians — including certification that can be completed and printed right from their site.
  • GMHC’s I Love My Boo is a “community-owned and operated” public-awareness campaign which created a “tapestry of love” on Facebook. They also partnered with the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, finding that their Facebook page was a more open space for the two organizations to collaborate than the physical church might be.
  • New York State Association of Police Chiefs provides podcasts on how to handle syringes – mobile, on-demand training for police officers since every squad car has a computer now.

Maybe it was because it was held in New York,