240597 An exploratory study of an Internet chat room-based intervention to promote HIV testing among MSM

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scott Rhodes, PhD, MPH, CHES , Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Jason Stowers , Triad Health Project, Greensboro, NC
Cynthia Miller , Division of Public Health Sciences/Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Michael Reece, PhD , Dept of Applied Health Science, Indiana University-Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
Amanda E. Tanner, PhD, MPH , Department of Public Health Sciences, University of North Carolina - Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Addison Ore , Triad Health Project, Greensboro, NC
Background: For many men who have sex with men (MSM), the Internet has emerged as an important tool for social and sexual networking and building community. CyBER/testing was an Internet chat room-based intervention found to increase HIV testing among MSM.

Methods: Our community-based participatory research partnership developed and piloted CyBER/testing. The intervention was implemented for 6 months within one geographically focused chat room designed for social and sexual networking among MSM. The intervention increased HIV testing using pre- and post-intervention cross-sectional samples. Content analysis of chat room transcripts was used to understand and characterize the intervention.

Results: The majority of chatters self-identified as White/European with a mean age of 37 years (range 18-78). About 50% self-identified as gay; nearly 20% self-identified as bisexual; with the remaining not reporting sexual identity. 1.6% reported being HIV positive.

From the qualitative data 4 domains emerged: (1) the chat room context (e.g., using chat rooms to find sexual partners, desire for HIV testing information, distrust of online outreach); (2) chatter prevention needs (e.g., STD information, risks associated with oral sex, negotiating safety) (3) existing HIV prevention strategies utilized to minimize harm (e.g., serosorting, refraining from anal sex); (4) interventionist characteristics that seem key to success (e.g., member of target community, creativity, chatting about non-prevention topics).

Conclusions: Findings suggest that chat-room MSM in the southeastern US continue to need targeted sexual health messaging. Chat-room outreach offers the potential to increase access to some MSM in order to provide sexual health information and increase HIV testing.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
By the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) Describe the components of a chat room-based intervention to promote HIV testing; (2) Describe the key characteristics of the interventionist and his approach that ensured acceptability and success of the intervention; and (3) Apply findings to future research and intervention development to reduce sexual risk among MSM.

Keywords: Gay Men, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD-level researcher with NIH funding.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.