It has been 40 years since AIDS was first reported, and it is now possible to end all new HIV infections. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of this fact and the science that makes this statement a reality. Our objective in producing the HIV unmuted podcast for the International AIDS Society is to help bring HIV awareness and current science back into mainstream conversation by interviewing the global HIV change makers who have helped shape the international HIV/AIDS response and work to help end the epidemic.
The International AIDS Society (IAS) approached AOMedia to create a podcast after working together to produce several virtual conferences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having never produced a podcast before, both parties set out to craft the structure and format of HIV unmuted. IAS was adamant that this podcast must be internationally facing, and that should be reflected in everything from the scripting to the host and guests. We also had to work closely with the IAS to identify and book experts such as Dr. Fauci and community members working daily to end the epidemic.
Perhaps our greatest challenge has been balancing science with storytelling to make a podcast focused on HIV/AIDS engaging, digestible, and relevant to our listeners. We've done this by making sure the science is easy to understand and by using music and sound to set the scene as guests take the listeners with them on their journey, whether it be on the streets of Kyiv or a courtroom in Georgia. We also must be very specific with our language when scripting because HIV unmuted often contains breaking scientific news, so a tremendous amount of research and approvals must happen before each episode is posted.
HIV unmuted is unique in that we are breaking scientific news, interviewing changemakers the average listener might not know by name, such as Magic Johnson's doctor or the scientist who discovered HIV, and broaching topics that affect everyone, like HIV criminalization or COVID and Mpox.
We've been pleased with our results thus far but are always looking to evolve creatively and increase listenership. Our metrics show that listenership has indeed been global, and the podcast has garnered several awards from the creative community. The awards are recognition that the work we're all doing is being appreciated, and our listenership continues to grow, which directly supports the mission of HIV unmuted - bringing HIV back into the current conversation.