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IknowUshould2: Feasibility of a Youth-Driven Social Media Campaign to Promote STI and HIV Testing Among Adolescents in Philadelphia


A youth-driven, social media-based campaign aimed at improving knowledge about and increasing testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/HIV among youth 13–17 years old was assessed by: tracking website/social media use throughout the campaign; online survey of knowledge of and attitudes towards STI testing 9 months after campaign launch; and comparing rates of STI testing at affiliated family planning clinics during the 1 year period immediately prior versus 1 year immediately after campaign launch. Over 1,500 youth were reached via social media. Survey results showed 46 % of youth had never been tested, but 70 % intended to test in the next 6 months. While the total number of GC/CT tests conducted and positive results were not significantly different pre- and post-campaign, there was a large increase in the proportion of visits at which Syphilis (5.4 vs. 18.8 %; p < 0.01) and HIV (5.4 vs. 19.0 %; p < 0.01) testing was conducted post-campaign launch. Future campaigns should incorporate lessons learned about engaging younger adolescents, social media strategies, and specific barriers to testing in this age group.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Adolescent Initiative, PolicyLab, Public Relations and Marketing Department, and the Office of Government Affairs, Community Relations and Advocacy staff for their support of this study. Specifically, we would like to thank Peter Grollman, Sarah Gibbons, and Joel Fein. We would also like to dedicate this manuscript to Christine Ambrose who was key to the success of this campaign and so many other programs that have and continue to reach marginalized youth. This work was also supported by NIH K23MH102128 (Dowshen) and the University of Pennsylvania CFAR developmental award (Dowshen), an NIH-funded program (P30AI045008).



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Correspondence to Nadia Dowshen.

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Dowshen, N., Lee, S., Matty Lehman, B. et al. IknowUshould2: Feasibility of a Youth-Driven Social Media Campaign to Promote STI and HIV Testing Among Adolescents in Philadelphia. AIDS Behav 19, 106–111 (2015).

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  • Adolescents
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI)
  • Social media
  • Mobile health