Beginning in 2017, CDC sought a contractor to develop and provide support for CDC’s national Act Against AIDS community Ambassador program (rebranded to the Let’s Stop HIV Together Ambassador program in 2019) with a goal of increasing awareness and use of national Act Against AIDS campaign materials and messaging. In 2017, CDC contracted with McKing to establish the Ambassador program in six cities; this included selecting and training culturally competent HIV Ambassadors with strong community ties who would be able to engage hard-to-reach audiences to innovatively promote HIV messaging. In 2019, CDC again contracted with McKing to expand the program to 20 cities identified as priority jurisdictions by HHS’s Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative.
McKing provided strategic direction, program development, and communication support for the Let’s Stop HIV Together Ambassador program (formerly Act Against AIDS) in nearly two dozen cities. We recruited, hired, and worked with a cohort of community leaders to disseminate Let’s Stop HIV Together materials and CDC HIV campaigns and resources in their respective cities. McKing developed tailored, strategic city action plans with each Ambassador to reach various community audiences; plans included an integrated communication plan and digital strategies to promote campaigns, disseminate materials, and reach at-risk audiences. Halfway through the 2019–2020 program year, in-person activities largely ceased due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, and McKing successfully transitioned Ambassador outreach efforts to a digital-first approach.