Posted by Jyoti Pal on September 03, 2013

Facebook has many credits to its name. Among other, it is known to have made the world a smaller place wherein friends and acquaintances can remain in touch with each other with minimal effort.

The most popular social networking site in the world has added another feather in its cap. Findings of a new study suggest that the portal could be effectively used to disseminate HIV prevention messages.

The findings of the study reveal that involvement of Facebook groups enhances the home-based HIV testing among at-risk populations.

Facebook could thus become an important enabler in helping people around the world understand their health in a better manner.

Research Methodology
For the purpose of the study, sixteen randomly chosen peer leaders were asked to disseminate HIV related information via closed Facebook groups to Los Angeles-based MSM.

The message was to be sent to 112 men who have sex with men from the Los Angeles area between September 2010 and February 2011.

As a part of the experiment, participants could ask for a home-based HIV testing kit, free of cost.

The online interactions were monitored to gauge the level of participation and engagement.
The study, which spanned 12 weeks, found that 44 percent of the intervention participants had requested an HIV testing kit vis-à-vis 20 percent of the participants in the control group.

Intervention of Technology
The study is "really demonstrating a way to take what we already know to be effective… and translating it into the digital realm," said Sheana Bull, professor and chair of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health in Denver.

The study exemplifies how behavioral science and behavior change can be modified with the help of existing technologies.

"I'm convinced that this approach will be able to create sustainable behavior changes," study leader Sean Young from the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Behavior and Addiction Medicine was quoted as saying in the Times of India.

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