Project HOPE: online social network changes in an HIV prevention randomized controlled trial for African American and Latino men who have sex with men

Am J Public Health. 2014 Sep;104(9):1707-12. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.301992. Epub 2014 Jul 17.


Objectives: We examined whether and how an HIV prevention diffusion-based intervention spread throughout participants' online social networks and whether changes in social network ties were associated with increased HIV prevention and testing behaviors.

Methods: We randomly assigned 112 primarily racial/ethnic minority men who have sex with men (MSM) to receive peer-delivered HIV (intervention) or general health (control) information over 12 weeks through closed Facebook groups. We recorded participants' public Facebook friend networks at baseline (September 2010) and follow-up (February 2011), and assessed whether changes in network growth were associated with changes in health engagement and HIV testing.

Results: Within-group ties increased in both conditions from baseline to follow-up. Among the intervention group, we found a significant positive relation between increased network ties and using social media to discuss sexual behaviors. We found a positive trending relationship between increased network ties and likelihood of HIV testing, follow-up for test results, and participation in online community discussions. No significant differences were seen within control groups.

Conclusions: Among high-risk MSM, peer-led social media HIV prevention interventions can increase community cohesion. These changes appear to be associated with increased HIV prevention and testing behaviors.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Support