Social networking site interventions: risky sexual behavior

Social networking site interventions use social networks such as Facebook and MySpace as a platform to deliver health education. Such interventions may provide information on one social networking site exclusively or be part of a broader online campaign that uses websites and multiple social networks.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased HIV and STI knowledge

  • Reduced risky sexual behavior

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased condom use

  • Increased STI testing

Evidence of Effectiveness

Social networking site interventions are a suggested strategy to increase knowledge about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and decrease risky sexual behaviors among adolescents (CDC-Kachur 2013). Available evidence indicates that interventions on social networking sites successfully reach target audiences (, Pedrana 2013). Such interventions may also decrease risky online behaviors (), increase condom use by adolescents in the short-term (Bull 2012), and increase home-based HIV testing among men who have sex with men (). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects (Gold 2011). 

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Social networking sites are increasingly used for promotion of sexual health interventions (Gold 2011). The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (National Campaign) and GYT: Get Yourself Tested (GYT), for example, use websites, Facebook, and Twitter as part of multi-media campaigns aimed at adolescents and young adults (CDC-Kachur 2013).

Implementation Resources

CDC-Kachur 2013 - Kachur R, Mesnick J, Liddon N, et al. Adolescents, technology and reducing risk for HIV, STDs and pregnancy. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 2013.

Citations - Evidence

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Gold 2011 - Gold J, Pedrana AE, Sacks-Davis R, et al. A systematic examination of the use of online social networking sites for sexual health promotion. BMC Public Health. 2011;11:583.

Bull 2012 - Bull SS, Levine DK, Black SR, Schmiege SJ, Santelli J. Social media-delivered sexual health intervention: A cluster randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2012;43(5):467–74.

Young 2013* - Young SD, Cumberland WG, Lee S-J, et al. Social networking technologies as an emerging tool for HIV prevention: A cluster randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014;159(5):318–24.

Guse 2012* - Guse K, Levine D, Martins S, et al. Interventions using new digital media to improve adolescent sexual health: A systematic review. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2012;51(6):535–43.

CDC-Kachur 2013 - Kachur R, Mesnick J, Liddon N, et al. Adolescents, technology and reducing risk for HIV, STDs and pregnancy. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 2013.

Nguyen 2013* - Nguyen P, Gold J, Pedrana A, et al. Sexual health promotion on social networking sites: A process evaluation of the FaceSpace project. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2013;53(1):98–104.

Pedrana 2013 - Pedrana A, Hellard M, Gold J, et al. Queer as f**k: Reaching and engaging gay men in sexual health promotion through social networking sites. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2013;15(2):e25.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Gold 2011 - Gold J, Pedrana AE, Sacks-Davis R, et al. A systematic examination of the use of online social networking sites for sexual health promotion. BMC Public Health. 2011;11:583.

CDC-Kachur 2013 - Kachur R, Mesnick J, Liddon N, et al. Adolescents, technology and reducing risk for HIV, STDs and pregnancy. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 2013.

GYT - Get Yourself Tested (GYT). Know yourself, know your status.

National Campaign - National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Responsible behavior. Responsible policies.

Date Last Updated

Mar 15, 2014