Social media with behaviour psychology can lead to HIV testing among high-risk men

Washington, Sept 07 : A new study has showed that an approach that combines behavioural science with social media and online communities can lead to improved health behaviours among men at risk of HIV infection.

According to the study's lead investigator, Sean D. Young, an assistant professor of family medicine and director of innovation at the Center for Behavior and Addiction Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the evidence-based approach also proved to be one of the best HIV-prevention and testing approaches on the Internet.

Young said that the study also found similar effects for general health and well-being.

The researchers recruited 112 men who have sex with men through banner ads placed on social networking sites like Facebook, through a Facebook fan page with study information, through banner ads and posts on Craigslist, and from venues such as bars, schools, gyms and community organizations in Los Angeles. Of the participants, 60 percent were African-American, 28 percent were Latino, 11 percent were white and 2 percent were Asian-American.

The men were randomly assigned to one of two Facebook discussion groups - an HIV intervention group or a general health group.

Throughout the study, the men were able to request and receive home-based HIV self-testing kits. At baseline and again after 12 weeks, participants completed a 92-item survey.

Among other things, the researchers looked for evidence of behavioral change - such as reductions in the number of sexual partners - and requests for home-based HIV test kits, along with follow-ups to obtain test results.

The study is published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

--ANI (Posted on 07-09-2013)

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