Mass media campaigns to prevent pregnancy & STIs

Evidence Rating  
Some Evidence
Evidence rating: Some Evidence

Strategies with this rating are likely to work, but further research is needed to confirm effects. These strategies have been tested more than once and results trend positive overall.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers

Mass media interventions to decrease pregnancy and STIs use television, radio, internet, and print media to disseminate information regarding safe sex behaviors to a large population in order to increase knowledge, improve risk perception, and change behavior.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Increased STI testing

  • Increased HIV and STI knowledge

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Reduced risky sexual behavior

What does the research say about effectiveness? This strategy is rated some evidence.

There is some evidence that mass media interventions increase frequency of HIV testing in the short-term12 as well as knowledge about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)34. Such interventions may also positively affect risk behaviors such as condom use32 and number of sexual partners in some circumstances2. Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Research suggests that the most effective mass media interventions define target populations, tailor messages to those populations4, 56, coordinate with existing interventions, and use multiple channels to disseminate messages6, 7. Longer durations may increase campaign effectiveness3. Mass media campaigns may be cost effective in populations with  low rates of HIV infection8.

Mass media interventions for HIV prevention appear to be more effective in areas with fewer resources than areas with greater resources; such campaigns also appear less effective in developed countries than in developing countries3.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated likely to increase disparities.
Implementation Examples

There are a variety of mass media interventions addressing sexual and reproductive health issues in the United States. These interventions use media advocacy, public service announcements (PSAs), entertainment-education, and other media technologies9.

Implementation Resources

AIDSTAR - AIDSTAR-One. Behavioral interventions: Mass media and HIV prevention.


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1 Cochrane-Wei 2011 - Wei C, Herrick A, Raymond H, et al. Social marketing interventions to increase HIV / STI testing uptake among men who have sex with men and male-to-female transgender women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(9):CD009337.

2 Cochrane-Vidanapathirana 2005 - Vidanapathirana J, Abramson MJ, Forbes A, Fairley C. Mass media interventions for promoting HIV testing. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2005;(3):CD004775.

3 LaCroix 2014 - LaCroix JM, Snyder LB, Huedo-Medina TB, Johnson BT. Effectiveness of mass media interventions for HIV prevention, 1986-2013: A meta-analysis. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2014;66(Suppl 3):S329-40.

4 Noar 2009a - Noar SM, Palmgreen P, Chabot M, Dobransky N, Zimmerman RS. A 10-year systematic review of HIV/AIDS mass communication campaigns: Have we made progress? Journal of Health Communication. 2009;14(1):15-42.

5 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.

6 Keller 2002 - Keller SN, Brown JD. Media interventions to promote responsible sexual behavior. Journal of Sex Research. 2002;39(1):67-72.

7 WHO-Bertrand 2006 - Bertrand JT, Anhang R. The effectiveness of mass media in changing HIV/AIDS-related behavior among young people in developing countries. WHO Technical Report Series. 2006;938:205-41; discussion 317-41.

8 Cohen 2004a - Cohen DA, Wu SY, Farley TA. Comparing the cost-effectiveness of HIV prevention interventions. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2004;37(3):1404-1404.

9 National Campaign-Keller 2008 - Keller S. Chapter 3.0: Using media to address adolescent sexual health: Lessons learned at home. In: Brown JD ed. Managing the media monster: The influence of media (from television to text messages) on teen sexual behavior and attitudes, Washington, D.C.: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; 2008.

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