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HIV Prevention England - Evaluation of social media interventions with MSM and African people

Duration: July 2014 - June 2015

HIV Prevention England (HPE) is a national programme of HIV prevention for men that have sex with men (MSM) and African people in England, with an initial contract running for 33 months from 01-07-2012 to 31-03-2015.

People use social media such as Facebook and Twitter in a variety of ways and for many different reasons. It is used by a large number of people on a daily basis. This study will evaluate the social media components of a large HIV prevention intervention called ‘It Starts with Me’ (ISWM). In doing so it will explore a key question for public health: why and how do people engage with social media health focussed interventions? Whilst social media is increasingly seen as a solution for a range of health issues, there is currently little evidence to support this role, and little theoretical understanding for how these interventions may have impact.

We will conduct a series of shorter and longer qualitative interviews with people who use social media, and specially people who are the target of the ISWM intervention (men who have sex with men, and individuals from black African communities in England). We will also conduct a content analysis of sexual health interventions conducted in social media environments, and make an assessment of online engagement.

This project will consolidate understandings of the value of social media to HIV health promotion and provide a comprehensive overview of activities undertaken in HIV Prevention England. Best practice from the most successful approaches will be explored and learning shared amongst organisations potentially adding value and building capacity in the sector. This project will also help to demonstrate whether the HIV Prevention England project is providing value for money for the government and which social media approaches have been most successful for future commissioning. Planned outputs include three journal articles addressing potential pathways to impact, an evaluation of the intervention itself and the privacy concerns which impact engagement in end users.

Key contact: Adam Bourne

HIV Prevention England is funded by Public Health England and managed by Terrence Higgins Trust.