Dr. Green: an E-counseling experience for promoting HIV/AIDS prevention among MSM in Peru
Issues: In Peru, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is concentrated among men who have sex with men (MSM) and the internet has become a very popular venue to find sex partners among this population. Recent research, from around the globe, has demonstrated the importance of the internet as an HIV prevention tool. Chat rooms seem to provide a safe and private space to do e-counseling about HIV. Peru is one of the few countries in Latin America working in this issue.
Description: An online risk-reduction counseling service called “Dr. Green” was designed and sponsored by Via Libre, a Peruvian NGO working in HIV/AIDS prevention for more than 18 years. Dr. Green is a real time, online service, delivered twice a week in a chat room located in gayperu.com, a prominent gay website in Peru. Each weekly session lasts 1 hour and has reached more than 600 gay men since June 2006.
Lessons learned: To date, clients of Dr. Green have confirmed that there is a need for psychological and medical counseling about sexual health in online venues frequently visited by MSM.
To date, most clients have reported emotional problems, primarily with their regular partners, and have reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many MSM are aware of their risk for HIV after having sex with occasional partners who were met over the internet, but they also reported almost no access to HIV testing.
Clients also reported that they feel comfortable discussing topics that they usually don’t talk about with other health care providers.
Next steps: The success of this counseling program warrants further online prevention efforts by both ministries of health and other health organizations. The anonymity of the internet offers a safe space for MSM to obtain up-to-date HIV information and risk-reduction counseling.
-Abstract available at link below-