Social Media as Means of HIV Prevention and Management

Although HIV and STD are no longer in the spotlight of the public attention due to the increasingly significant threats from cancer and other health issues, the problem of providing target populations with the relevant information and compelling them to follow the suggested behaviors remains a problem (Latkin et al., 2013). The lack of concern about the problem among young people must be viewed as a reason for implementing major changes by launching a program aimed at raising awareness and promoting active knowledge acquisition. It is assumed that New York City STD/HIV Prevention Training Center (NYC STD/HIV PTC), a program that incorporates the use of social media as the means of information management, will help address the issue and increase awareness levels among young people.

The significance of social networks as the tools for recruiting people to participate in HIV and STD management programs has been discussed in the article by Latkin et al. (2013). The authors point to the fact that the process of raising awareness about HIV and STD is essential for not only prevention and management of the problem but also gaining the support of the rest of the population. Shedding light on the subject matter and inviting more people to participate will help reduce the levels of alienation between people with HIV/STD and the rest of the population.

Latkin et al. (2013) use the randomized controlled trial as the tool for collecting the relevant data and determining the efficacy of social networks in providing emotional support to the people suffering from HIV and STD. The use of the identified approach, which is admittedly sensible, has its problems, its small scope being the key one. That being said, the research results are quite curious. Shedding light on the current concerns about prejudices toward people with HIV and STD, the study provides the foundation for developing the strategy that could promote a change in the contemporary social norms and, therefore, improve the attitude toward people with the specified health issue. As a result, the social stigma that patients with HIV and STD bear in the modern society will finally be addressed, and the target population will have an opportunity not to face social ostracism.

The results of the study carried out by Latkin et al. (2013) open a plethora of new and exciting opportunities for improving the NYC STD/HIV PTC program. Particularly, the focus thereof may be shifted from the sole purpose of increasing knowledge and skill levels among people with HIV and STD to the general promotion of awareness regarding the subject matter. As a result, the foundation for addressing the socio-ethical issues associated with the management of HIV and STD, especially as far as the provision of support for the people that develop the identified diseases, can be created.

The support and understanding that the rest of the community members will provide to the target population will, in turn, become the basis for improving the quality of care. The less negativity patients will face when interacting with the rest of the community, the more powerful the impact of the treatment will be. Particularly, the threat of the target population to develop a comorbid psychological issue such as depression or PTSD as a result of the shock of the social isolation will be reduced to a minimum (Latkin et al., 2013).

Similarly, the article by Friedman et al. (2014) explores the story of successful implementation of an HIV/STD program. The authors of the study identify the factors that contribute dot the success of the Get Yourself Tested (GYT) program. The results of the study indicate that there has been a steep rise in the enhancement of engagement levels among young people as far as the subject matter was concerned (Friedman et al., 2014). Similarly, to the outcomes of the study by Latkin et al. (2013), Friedman et al.’s (2014)research results point to the importance of using social media as the tool for compelling people to change their behaviors and attitudes toward HIV and STD. Furthermore, the GYT program has contributed to a significant rise in responsibility levels regarding the problem among people from a poor social background (i.e., low-income families, families with a domestic violence background, etc.).

The study served as the foundation for developing a better understanding of how social media can be used to address the needs of a vulnerable population from poor economic and social backgrounds as far as the provision of the HIV- and STD-related information is concerned. The authors offer exhaustive data about the social challenges that people with HIV and STD face in the contemporary environment, thus, providing the foundation for the development of a comprehensive approach that will contribute to the elimination of the social stigma of HIV and STD. Furthermore, the research serves as the source of innovative approaches aimed at promoting better cohesion within the community. By focusing on unity among the members, one will be able to create a very powerful support system that will not allow the target population to develop comorbid psychological disorders such as PTSD and depression.

Young et al. (2014) provide a different way of looking at the problem associated with the promotion of healthy behavior and the management of HIV/STD. Also focusing on the significance of using social networks and similar media types, the study explores the opportunities for exerting influence on the target population by developing a strong leadership approach. Particularly, the authors stress that young people can be taught to follow the suggested behavioral models and accept the necessary healthcare standards, especially as far as testing for HIV/STD is concerned, once they are given a gentle nudge from a positive and strong leader figure (Young et al., 2014). The fact that the community support plays a significant part in the enhancement of the leadership strategy should be mentioned as well.

The study in question provides a lot of opportunities for improving the NYC STD/HIV PTC program, primarily because of the emphasis on opportunities for developing a coherent leadership strategy. Furthermore, the assistance of peer leader experts can be used for developing social media-based peer-health interventions, which will allow the participants to experience the support of the community members and, thus, will enhance the efficacy of the NYC STD/HIV PTC program significantly. By designing an efficient leadership strategy based on the transformational approach, i.e., the enhancement of enthusiasm and motivation rates among the target population, one will be able to make a difference in the area of HIV and STD management and prevention.

Finally, there is a need to understand why the engagement levels among young people are low when it comes to learning about HIV and STD prevention management. Ybarra et al. (2014) address the specified issue in their study and analyze the factors that prevent young people from becoming curious about the subject matter. According to the outcomes of the study, the way in which the program as represented, i.e., as a part of the school curriculum or an extension of the opportunities that students could enjoy with the help of modern media, defined the motivation rates among the target population.

Seeing that the research allows viewing the problem from the perspective of young people, i.e., the target demographics, it can be used as the foundation for developing a successful program. The idea of representing HIV/STD-related learning as an extra option instead of a variation of an academic assignment, while being rather basic is, in fact, bound to be quite efficient. What seemed to be a mundane activity will become an exciting opportunity to acquire new skills and protect oneself from dangerous diseases. Thus, the concept must be included in the body of the NYC STD/HIV PTC program.

By incorporating social media tools, particularly, social networks, into the program aimed at increasing the levels of awareness about the threats of HIV and STD among young people, one is bound to achieve a significant success since the identified tool allows for a rapid and efficient dissemination of the relevant information. Furthermore, the inclusion of social networks into the set of instruments used for increasing awareness levels is bound to contribute to enhancing the sense of community. As a result, an increasingly large number of young people are expected to join the program. Thus, the basis for reducing the levels of HIV and STD contraction among young people will be created.

References

Friedman, A. L., Brookmeyer, K. A., Kachur, R. E., Ford, J., Hogben, M., Habel, M. A.,… McFarlane, M. (2014). An assessment of the GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign: An integrated approach to sexually transmitted disease prevention communication. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 41(3), 151-157. doi:10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000100

Latkin, C. A., Davey-Rothwell, M. A., Knowlton, R. A., Alexander, K. A., Williams, C. T., & Boodram, B. (2013). Social network approaches to recruitment, HIV prevention, medical care, and medication adherence. The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 63(1), 54–58. doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182928e2a

Ybarra, M., Mwaba, K., Prescott, T. L., Roman, N. V., Rooi, B., & Bull, S. (2014). Opportunities for technology-based HIV prevention programming among high school students in Cape Town, South Africa. AIDS Care, 26(12), 1562-1567. doi:10.1080/09540121.2014.936814

Young, S. D., Zhao, M., Teiu, K., Kwok, J., Gill, H., & Gill, N. (2014). A social-media based HIV prevention intervention using peer leaders. Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet, 17(4), 353-361. doi:10.1080/15398285.2013.833445.