Recent studies have shown that social media affects HIV testing in a positive way. In this article LetsGetChecked discuss the studies associated with social media and H.I.V testing as well as at home H.I.V testing.


Social Media Affects HIV Testing: The Study

Recent studies show that HIV testing increases in areas with active social media awareness campaigns.

By the end of 2015 approximately 2.1 million people had been newly diagnosed with the virus. According to the World Health Organization, only 54% of people with HIV are aware of their status which really puts the spotlight on the importance of HIV testing especially among high risk groups.

Regular HIV testing not only prevents the spread of HIV by letting people know their status but can also result in early detection of the infection which allows patients to receive anti-HIV therapy before the disease progresses which has been proven to help preserve the immune system and overall health.

The Effect of Social Media on HIV Testing

Recent research suggests the answer may be in the palm of our hands in the shape of social media. In 2012 a study published in the Journal of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association a group of 295 people in Australia were surveyed to evaluate the effectiveness of a social marketing campaign in 2008-2009 aimed to increase health-seeking behaviour and HIV testing and enhance HIV/STI knowledge in gay men.

Results show that awareness of the campaign was associated with having had an STI test within the past 6 months. Compared with the 13 months before the campaign, clinic data showed significant increasing testing rates for HIV, syphilis, and chlamydia among HIV-negative gay men during the initial and continued campaign periods.

Social Media Affects HIV Testing At Home

Social media represents a significant opportunity for health awareness and promotion campaigns to reach cohorts of people in a way that was not possible before the advent of the digital age.

More recently, a team of researchers in North Carolina conducted a study across two populations based several hundred kilometres apart to assess the impact of a social media campaign on STI and HIV testing. Researchers posted on a number of social media platforms – Adam4Adam, Black Gay Chat, Craigslist and creating a health educator profile on each platform that posted about HIV, the importance of HIV testing, made users aware of his availability to answer questions about HIV testing, including the testing process, and provide the locations of testing sites and posted about “additional opportunities” for testing, including non-clinical sites such as events at bars and clubs. A total of 1292 participants took part in the study and were randomly assigned to intervention or non-intervention groups.

The results showed that the proportion of participants in the intervention group who had been tested for HIV grew from 35% to 64% over the duration of the study however in the non-intervention group this only increased from 39% – 42% indicating that the awareness campaign and ease of accessibility to information on testing via social media resulted in increased rates of testing.

Read: Living with...H.I.V.

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley