Utilising social media to support HIV/STI prevention: evidence to inform a handbook for public health agency managers: ECDC/WHCA Project SC12 3a

C Simas, H Larson, W Schulz, Maged N. Kamel Boulos

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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This report describes and analyses the social media space and the opportunities it presents for programmes to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) among youth across Europe. It aims to gather evidence for the production of a handbook to guide public health programme managers seeking to capitalise on these opportunities. Part 1 consists of a netnographic analysis of sexual health content on social media, outlining the social media platforms studied, methods used, findings, and discussion. Part 2 reports the methods and findings of in-depth interviews conducted with young people in Europe, and summarises emerging recommendations. Part 3 then identifies some promising approaches to the use of selected media and gamification, as well as other approaches that may be available to more advanced health programmes such as paid advertisements on social media. Table of Contents Introduction 2 What does this report provide? 2 Definitions 3 Target audience 3 Part 1 – Social Media & Content Analysis 4 1.1 Introduction 4 1.2 Netnography 5 1.3 Methodology 5 1.4 Findings and discussion 10 1.4.1 Facebook and sexual health messages 10 1.4.2 Instagram 11 1.4.3 Anonymous social network sites 12 1.4.4 Peer to peer education – YouTube 12 1.4.5 Content co-creation 13 1.4.6 Emoji and the Internet’s own language 13 1.4.7 Image sharing in social media 13 Part 2 – On-line Focus groups and in-depth interviews 14 2.1 Interview methods 14 2.2 Overall findings and emerging recommendations 15 Part 3 – Promising practices 19 3.1 Rapid change is the norm 19 3.2 Games 19 3.3 Social Apps 21 3.4 Paid social media advertisements and promotions 21 Conclusion 22 Limitations and opportunities 23 References 24 Annexes 27 Annex 1: Summary of Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews (ECDC/2014/013) 27 Annex 2: Questionnaire used for focus groups/interviews 29 Annex 3: Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form 30
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationStockholm
PublisherEuropean Centre for Disease Prevention and Control – ECDC
Commissioning bodyEuropean Centre for Disease Prevention and Control – ECDC (an EU agency), Stockholm
Number of pages35
ISBN (Print)9789294980786
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2017


  • HIV
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Social Media
  • Digital health
  • Public Health
  • youth
  • EU


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