Media Can Help Increase HIV Testing

Armen Hareyan's picture

HIV Testing and Symptoms

When the media encourage HIV testing, more people get tested, according to a new systematic review of studies.

"Changing behavior is a complex process that involves several factors. Mass media can be used to educate and raise awareness about a topic and can enhance appropriate utilization of health care services," according to lead review author Dr. Janaki Vidanapathirana, of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.


Fourteen studies from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel looked at HIV-testing promotions through radio, television, print films, documentaries, billboards and skits.

Studies analyzed effects of promotions on both the general public and high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men, bisexuals, pregnant women, people who have received blood transfusions and sex workers.

Two of the studies were randomized controlled trials, three were nonrandomized controlled studies, and nine were interrupted time series, which, although not controlled trials, "may be useful in evaluating large trials at the community level," according to the authors.

One U.S. intervention compared two sets of videos