Social networking site interventions: risky sexual behavior

Evidence Rating  
Expert Opinion
Evidence rating: Expert Opinion

Strategies with this rating are recommended by credible, impartial experts but have limited research documenting effects; further research, often with stronger designs, is needed to confirm effects.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers

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 adolescents1. Available evidence indicates that interventions on social networking sites successfully reach target audiences2, 3. Such interventions may also decrease risky online behaviors4, increase condom use by adolescents in the short-term5, and increase home-based HIV testing among men who have sex with men6. However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects7

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Social networking sites are increasingly used for promotion of sexual health interventions7. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy8 and GYT: Get Yourself Tested9, for example, use websites, Facebook, and Twitter as part of multi-media campaigns aimed at adolescents and young adults1.

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.


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1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

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

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

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