Computer-based interventions to prevent HIV and other STIs

Evidence Rating  
Scientifically Supported
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  

Computer-based interventions focused on decreasing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) provide participants with information on health issues of interest as well as computer-mediated decision making, behavior change, and emotional support. These interactive programs incorporate contributions from users to produce tailored material and feedback that is personally relevant. Programs may be delivered on personal computers or over the internet.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased HIV and STI knowledge

  • Increased self-efficacy

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Reduced risky sexual behavior

  • Delayed initiation of sex

  • Increased condom use

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that computer-based interventions increase knowledge about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), self-efficacy, and safe-sex intentions among adults and adolescents1, 2, 3. These inventions have also been shown to increase condom use and decrease the number of sexual partners4.

Among adolescents, computer-based interventions may also delay initiation of sex and increase pregnancy prevention knowledge1, however, additional evidence is needed to confirm these effects.

Interventions that are tailored to individual users tend to be most successful2, 3, 4. Provision of individualized feedback, promotion of active learning, anonymity, and repeatability are also frequently components of effective computer-based interventions3.

Computer-based interventions can be easily disseminated and can be relatively inexpensive3.

Impact on Disparities

Likely to increase disparities

Implementation Examples

Positive Choices is an example of a successful computer-based intervention that implements tailoring5.  


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1 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.

2 Noar 2010 - Noar SM, Pierce LB, Black HG. Can computer-mediated interventions change theoretical mediators of safer sex? A meta-analysis. Human Communication Research. 2010;36(3):261-97.

3 Cochrane-Bailey 2010 - Bailey J, Murray E, Rait G, et al. Interactive computer-based interventions for sexual health promotion. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010;(9):CD006483.

4 Noar 2009 - Noar SM, Black HG, Pierce LB. Efficacy of computer technology-based HIV prevention interventions: a meta-analysis. AIDS. 2009;23(1):107-15.

5 CDC-Positive Choice - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Positive choice: Interactive video doctor.

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