Using the Internet to Provide HIV-Prevention Messages to Men Who Have Sex with Men


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Photo of Meeting

On Wednesday, March 24, I had the pleasure of taking part in a day-long meeting about using the Internet to provide effective HIV-prevention messages to men who have sex with men (MSM). The meeting was sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A report is being developed about the meeting (and we’ll work with the CDC to help share the findings/outcomes), but we thought it was important to let you know that the meeting happened and that the CDC is carefully and methodically working to understand how to best reach their target audiences. The objectives of the meeting were to: 1) discuss how the use of specific channels, technologies, or websites vary by important demographic and behavioral characteristics; 2) determine the strengths and weaknesses of specific channels, technologies, or websites for different types of HIV prevention messages; 3) discuss how points raised for 2 and 3 above could inform the development of electronic materials to inform, educate, and support MSM choices for different risk-reduction strategies.

Jo Stryker

Dr. Stryker, CDC

After the meeting, I sat down with Jo Stryker, PhD, Associate Chief for Research and Evaluation at the CDC’s Prevention and Communication Branch of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention who explained that the meeting was part of a larger project aimed at developing the next generation of HIV prevention messages for MSM. “The overall purpose,” she said, “was to share lessons learned from internet-based HIV prevention strategies targeting MSM.”

Meeting Members

Stephan Adelsom, Lee Carson, Patrick Hebert, Mary McFarlane, Dan Melton, Paul Mooney, Brian Mustanski, David S. Novak, Jim Pickett, Cathy J. Reback, Greg Rebchook, Francisco Roque, B.R. Simon Rosser, Bhupendra Sheoran, Dan Wohlfeiler

The CDC invited a mix of people, ranging from academics to public health professionals to federal partners and industry experts (see the complete list of participants to the right).

What they all had in common, Dr. Stryker told us, “is their expertise in utilizing the internet and new technology to develop messages, interventions, and outreach strategies with a focus on MSM.”

“We need to make sure that we can develop messages that can relay the newest information to this at-risk population in a way that’s going to be clear and as personally relevant as possible, ”she said. “We need to make sure that we can harness the promise of the Internet.”

Dr. Stryker and her team are still compiling the information gathered at the meeting and are developing a report that will submitted to peer-reviewed journals and briefs that will be disseminated through the CDC website, as well as other channels, such as this blog. We will work with them to share and disseminate these findings in the upcoming weeks and months.

To learn more, listen the podcast of this blog post, which includes the complete interview with Dr. Stryker.


  1. Awesome!!!!! This social media geek awaits the report… exciting stuff.

  2. Have Rox says:

    That sounds like a great idea in theory but what are we going to do about the gay males who don’t use the internet. Maybe some out reach groups with local and regional advertising? Just a thought.
    Have Rox
    Dentist Saint Petersburg

  3. Lizzette Zenovka (SL name) says:

    I have five (5) HIV Prevention and Education Center in Second Life (SL). I have to say the MSM community within SL has been very helpful to me in my venture to increase HIV Awareness in SL, they have provided me free space to open my centers. Since I found out about Second Life I thought it is a great venue to provide HIV Prevention information and information to those living with HIV/AIDS. I have been a member of SL for three years.
    In Real Life I am a Social worker working in the of field of HIV Prevention with Bronx AIDS Services in NYC. I supervise a program for MSM. I believe that most people would rather learn about HIV Prevention and Education via a virtual world, because of the stigma attached to HIV. If you are a member of SL please visit my centers

  4. CDC initiative to increase disease prevention awareness is most welcome from point of view of insurance industry. Insurance industry was unprepared and significantly affected back in 80s and 90s by outstanding increase in the number of very high claims caused by MSMs deaths and subsequent claims by their families. This had adverse effect on the rest of population as the necessary adjustment of insurance premiums. In a retrospect we had situation where many industry jobs were at risk as well.
    If our own experience can contribute, it would be very good to consider FaceBook and Twitter, as well as social bookmarking Web 2.0 properties. This channels are very accessible to general public and have an edge in terms of luck of commercialization, which means that message would be more “discoverable”.

  5. I think using the internet to reach the MSM community is the best option, and there are many different forums to do so. My suggestions would be dating sites who cater to MSM and also social sites such as facebook where you can do targeted marketing. They allow you to market only to certain categories such as men interested in men. Just a couple of thoughts.

  6. You might consider approaching Google with their public service ads. Online dating websites like and might display banners for it too.

  7. I think using the internet for increasing the MSM community’s awareness for Aids prevention is definitely a step forward. In addition to the internet, I suggest to take advantage of the foot traffic in offline establishments such as local Doctors’ and Dentists’ offices, by making free informative flyers available to their patients.

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