Social Media Tools Can Help HIV-Prevention Efforts, Study Finds

Social Media Tools Can Help HIV-Prevention Efforts, Study Finds

Feb 19 • Health News • 2150 Views • Comments

Facebook and other social networking tools could help prevent HIV infection among at-risk groups, according to a study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Medical News Today reports. Study Details For the study, researchers recruited 112 men who have sex with men, 90% of whom were African-American or Latino. Participants were recruited through: Banner advertisements on social networking websites, such as Facebook and MySpace; Banner ads and posts on Craigslist; A Facebook fan page with study information; and Venues such as bars, schools, gyms and community organizations. Participants randomly were assigned to either a general health group on Facebook or a confidential HIV-prevention group on the social networking site. Study Findings The study found that participants assigned to the private HIV-prevention group discussed HIV-related topics, including: Advocacy; Knowledge; Prevention; Stigma; and Testing. According to the study, participants in the HIV-prevention group who were over the age of 31 were more likely to discuss prevention, testing, stigma and advocacy, while participants younger than age 31 were more likely to discuss general HIV information. The study also found that participants in the HIV-prevention group who posted about prevention and testing were 11 times more likely to request an HIV testing kit than participants who did not discuss those topics. Comments on Study Sean Young — principal investigator and assistant professor at the University of California-Los Angeles’ David Geffen School of Medicine — said the study demonstrates that “participants will use social media to learn about HIV prevention and that those who talk about HIV prevention over social networking groups are not just talking about it — they are acting on their words by getting an HIV test.” However, researchers said that because all participants were from the Los Angeles area, the findings might not be applicable to men from other areas (Medical News Today, 2/11).

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