A CBPR partnership increases HIV testing among MSM: outcome findings from a pilot test of the CyBER/testing internet intervention
S. Rhodes1, K. Hergenrather2, A. Vissman1, J. Stowers3, T. McCoy4, A. Wilkin5, M. Reece6, C. Miller1, L. Bachmann5, A. Ore3, M. Ross7, E. Hendrix8, E. Eng9
1Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Medical Center, Social Sciences and Health Policy, Winston-Salem, United States, 2The George Washington University, Department of Counseling/Human Organizational Studies, Washington, DC, United States, 3Triad Health Project, Greensboro, United States, 4Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Medical Center, Biostatistical Sciences, Winston-Salem, United States, 5Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Medical Center, Infectious Diseases, Winston-Salem, United States, 6Indiana University, School of Health, Physical Education & Recreation, Bloomington, United States, 7University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, United States, 8Ellen Hendrix, LLC, Winston-Salem, United States, 9University of North Carolina, Department of Health Behavior, Chapel Hill, United States
Background: For many men who have sex with men (MSM), the Internet has emerged as an important tool for social networking and support, meeting friends and sexual partners, and building community. However, seeking sex on the Internet also has been identified as a risk factor for HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) infection among MSM.
Methods: Our community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership developed and piloted CyBER/testing, a culturally congruent intervention designed to promote HIV testing among MSM within Internet chat rooms. The intervention was implemented for 6 months within one geographically oriented chat room designed for social and sexual networking among MSM. Using a quasi-experimental single-group study design, cross-sectional data were collected from chat room participants, known as “chatters,” at pretest (n=346) and post-test (n=315). Extant profile data also were collected to describe the demographics of a sample of the general chat room population (n=509) during one week.
Results: Mean age of the chatters at pretest (n=346) was 37.2 years, 71.3% self-identified as white, and 20% reported having sex with both men and women. There were no significant demographic differences among chatters who participated in the pretest and the post-test and the sample of the general population of chatters.
However, those in the post-test had significantly higher self-reported HIV testing rates: 44.5% at pretest and nearly 59.4% at post-test (P< .001). Furthermore, chatters who reported having both male and female sexual partners had nearly 6 times the odds of reporting HIV testing at post-test (P< .001).
Conclusions: Findings suggest that chat room-based HIV testing interventions may increase testing among MSM who may be difficult to reach in traditional physical spaces and among those who have sex with both men and women.