242097 Internet and other sources of sexual health information among urban African American youth

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

M. Margaret Dolcini, PhD , Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Joseph Catania, PhD , Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Kimberly Richards, PhD , MA , Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Gary W. Harper, PhD, MPH , Department of Psychology and MPH Program, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Cherrie B. Boyer, PhD , Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Senna Towner, MS , Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Background: Sexual health information is available from a variety of sources, including the Internet. Little is known about the extent to which poor urban African American youth use the Internet for sexual health information and integrate this into information from other sources.

Methods: We obtained a purposive sample of sexually active African American youth (n=30;aged 15-17) from high-risk neighborhoods in two cities. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by trained interviewers, taped, transcribed, and entered into NVIVO. The present analyses focus on Internet use, other information network sources, and message content. Case analyses provide a framework for categorizing youth by level of preparedness for sex.

Results: The Internet was identified as a source of information, but its role was less substantial than other network sources (e.g., parents, sex education). The Internet was rarely used; instead youth relied on sex education, family, and medical professionals as sources. Furthermore, information from the Internet was commonly embedded in commercials (e.g., condom brands) and seldom educational. Case analysis revealed that highly prepared youth had diverse networks with consistently sex positive prevention messages; unprepared youth had limited networks and inconsistent messages. Internet use did not differentiate the groups.

Conclusions: The Internet is not being fully utilized by poor urban youth as a resource for sexual health information. Youth may be unaware of Internet sites that provide sexual information or their access to sites may be limited (e.g., blocked). Development of interventions that build on existing information networks and integrate Internet use have potential to enhance HIV prevention.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Explore the role of the Internet as a source of sexual health information for African American youth/ 2. Identify the patterns of information and support that promote sexual health among youth, with a focus on the internet

Keywords: Adolescents, Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have over 2 decades of experience conducting health related research with ethnic minority youth.
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.