Social Media Use and HIV-Related Risk Behaviors in Young Black and Latino Gay and Bi Men and Transgender Individuals in New York City: Implications for Online Interventions
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Urban young men who have sex with men (YMSM) and transgender women continue to experience high rates of new HIV infections in the USA, yet most of this population is not reached by current prevention interventions. The rate of Internet and social media use among youth is high. However, continually updated understanding of the associations between social media access and use and HIV risk behaviors is needed to reach and tailor technology-delivered interventions for those most vulnerable to HIV—racially and ethnically diverse urban YMSM and transgender persons. Thus, we conducted an in-person, venue-based cross-sectional survey among young gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals at locations primarily visited by Black and Latino gay and bisexual and transgender individuals in New York City to understand social media use and how it may relate to HIV risk behaviors to inform social media-based interventions. Among 102 primarily Black and Latino gay and bisexual men (75.5 %) and transgender women (19.6 %), over 90 % were under 30 years of age, 18.6 % reported homelessness in the past 6 months, and 10.8 % reported having HIV. All participants used social media, most accessed these platforms most often via a mobile device (67.6 %) and most logged on multiple times per day (87.3 %). Participants used social media to seek sex partners (56.7 %), exchange sex for money or clothes (19.6 %), and exchange sex for drugs (9.8 %). These results confirm prior studies demonstrating the feasibility of using social media platforms to reach at-risk, urban youth. Of particular concern is the association between recent STI and exchanging sex for money/clothes and drugs. Interventions using social media for young, urban minority MSM and transgender populations should incorporate risk reduction modules addressing exchange partners and promote frequent and regular HIV/STI testing.
KeywordsSocial media Technology Social networking HIV Prevention LGBT Gay
We would like to thank the participants who volunteered for this study and the staff of the Bronx Community Pride Center for helping design and make this study possible. We would also like to acknowledge the volunteers who aided in recruitment and data acquisition. This study was supported in part by NIH grants K23MH102118, R25DA023021, K24DA036955, and UL1TR001073 and the Center for AIDS Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center (NIH AI-51519).
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