eHealth interventions for HIV prevention in high-risk men who have sex with men: a systematic review

J Med Internet Res. 2014 May 26;16(5):e134. doi: 10.2196/jmir.3393.


Background: While the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) incidence rate has remained steady in most groups, the overall incidence of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) has been steadily increasing in the United States. eHealth is a platform for health behavior change interventions and provides new opportunities for the delivery of HIV prevention messages.

Objective: The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the use of eHealth interventions for HIV prevention in high-risk MSM.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed, OVID, ISI Web of Knowledge, Google Scholar, and Google for articles and grey literature reporting the original results of any studies related to HIV prevention in MSM and developed a standard data collection form to extract information on study characteristics and outcome data.

Results: In total, 13 articles met the inclusion criteria, of which five articles targeted HIV testing behaviors and eight focused on decreasing HIV risk behaviors. Interventions included Web-based education modules, text messaging (SMS, short message service), chat rooms, and social networking. The methodological quality of articles ranged from 49.4-94.6%. Wide variation in the interventions meant synthesis of the results using meta-analysis would not be appropriate.

Conclusions: This review shows evidence that eHealth for HIV prevention in high-risk MSM has the potential to be effective in the short term for reducing HIV risk behaviors and increasing testing rates. Given that many of these studies were short term and had other limitations, but showed strong preliminary evidence of improving outcomes, additional work needs to rigorously assess the use of eHealth strategies for HIV prevention in high-risk MSM.

Keywords: HIV prevention; HIV risk behaviors; HIV testing; Internet; SMS; eHealth; high-risk MSM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education / methods
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Risk-Taking
  • Telemedicine*
  • Text Messaging