Attitudes toward online HIV/sexually-transmitted infection prevention

Published: January 1, 2010

a b s t r a c t

Objectives: To describe the attitudes of men who have sex with men (MSM) toward online HIV/sexuallytransmitted infection (STI) prevention programs and to identify and characterize user profiles with regardto their attitudes toward online prevention programs.

Method: A survey in gay venues or via the internet was completed by 2,044 participants from Madrid,
Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastián (Spain). The survey explored socio-demographic variables, sexual
behavior and other risk behaviors associated with HIV infection, as well as attitudes toward online preventionprograms. The statistical analysis included factor analysis and non-hierarchical cluster analysis.

Results: Most MSM had positive attitudes towards online HIV/STI prevention programs. Factor analysis
revealed two factors: online prevention aimed at interaction and online prevention aimed at information.
Based on these factors, three user profiles were identified: users oriented toward informative and
interactive online prevention (53.5%), users oriented toward interactive online prevention (25.9%) and
users were not oriented toward online prevention (20.7%). On characterizing these profiles, we observed
a significant presence of men who were not interested in online prevention among those with a lower
educational level, bisexual men and HIV-positive men. Conversely, those most receptive to online prevention
were men self-identified as gay, those with a bachelors degree, those who had been tested for
HIV and those who were HIV-negative.

Conclusion: The internet can facilitate sexual health promotion among MSM. Characterization of user
profiles offers the possibility of segmenting prevention programs and of combining online and offline
strategies.

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