Social networking technologies are an emerging tool for HIV prevention.
To determine whether social networking communities can increase HIV testing among African American and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM).
Randomized, controlled trial with concealed allocation. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01701206) SETTING: Online.
112 MSM based in Los Angeles, more than 85% of whom were African American or Latino.
Sixteen peer leaders were randomly assigned to deliver information about HIV or general health to participants via Facebook groups over 12 weeks. After participants accepted a request to join the group, participation was voluntary. Group participation and engagement were monitored. Participants could request a free, home-based HIV testing kit and completed questionnaires at baseline and 12-week follow-up.
Participant acceptance of and engagement in the intervention and social network participation, rates of home-based HIV testing, and sexual risk behaviors.
Almost 95% of intervention participants and 73% of control participants voluntarily communicated using the social platform. Twenty-five of 57 intervention participants (44%) requested home-based HIV testing kits compared with 11 of 55 control participants (20%) (difference, 24 percentage points [95% CI, 8 to 41 percentage points]). Nine of the 25 intervention participants (36%) who requested the test took it and mailed it back compared with 2 of the 11 control participants (18%) who requested the test. Retention at study follow-up was more than 93%.
Only 2 Facebook communities were included for each group.
Social networking communities are acceptable and effective tools to increase home-based HIV testing among at-risk populations.
PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE:
National Institute of Mental Health.
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