Objectives: To determine the accessibility and effectiveness of different sources of information about human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in a rural population.
Methods: A total of 152 (58.6% women, 76.2% nonwhite) respondents living in rural southeast Louisiana completed a questionnaire assessing demographics, exposure to information about HIV/AIDS, and prevalence of HIV-related risk and protective behaviors. Differences by number and type of information sources accessed in prevalence of these behaviors were assessed using regression and multivariate analyses of variance.
Results: HIV-related information was widely accessible, with most respondents having obtained information from mass media and approximately half having been exposed to information from small media and interpersonal contacts. Small media and interpersonal source exposure was positively associated with greater likelihood of asking casual and steady partners about their HIV status. Although it was the most common factor, exposure to information from mass media was overall not significantly associated with the prevalence of risk or protective behaviors.
Conclusions: HIV-related information sources are being used by individuals living in rural regions. Unfortunately, exposure to such information was only weakly or not at all associated with the prevalence of most risk and protective factors. It can be concluded that HIV-related information, although accessible, has at best minimal effects on behaviors. More work is needed to increase the effectiveness of information about HIV/AIDS disseminated in rural regions.