Researchers Plan Trial Of Web-Based HIV Prevention Program
Researchersat the University of Minnesota plan to begin a clinical trial totest a Web-based software program that aims to fight the spread of HIV byreducing risky behaviors that can spread the virus, ANI/MalaysiaSun reports.
The research team -- led by Joseph Konstan, a professor of computer science andengineering at the university, and B.R. Simon Rosser, a professor in theuniversity's School of Public Health -- has worked for more than fiveyears to create a program that assesses risky behaviors among men who areseeking sex with other men through online networks. The team currently istesting an online intervention program that aims to reduce risky sexualbehaviors that contribute to the spread of HIV and other sexually transmittedinfections.
The software program asks users questions about body image, self-esteem, sexualhealth and risky behaviors and then provides information about HIV/AIDS. Theteam's research, which is part of an interdisciplinary project called the Men'sInternet Study, has found that seeking sex partners is the most popularInternet activity for high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men. Accordingto the researchers, the online model can be used for other health purposes,such as cancer prevention, substance abuse intervention and obesity prevention.The researchers said they hope the trial finds that the tool is effective inpreventing risky behaviors.
According to Konstan, the "goal of this research is to create a genuineonline experience that promotes healthier sexual behavior and encourages peopleto take fewer risks in sexual encounters." Konstan added that it isimportant to use the Internet for HIV prevention programs. If HIV preventionoutreach is not conducted properly "or in a way that's most responsive,we're going to have a new HIV epidemic," he said, adding, "There'senormous urgency in addressing gaps in HIV prevention" (ANI/MalaysiaSun, 12/19).
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