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.
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.”
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.