Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
African Americans living in the Southeastern region of the United States disproportionately contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Facebook and other social media sites are becoming a way to deliver health-related messaging to targeted populations. The purpose of this quantitative, cross-sectional study was to examine the association between selected demographic factors and impact of social media on intent to change sexual behaviors among 112 African Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 in the Southeastern United States who viewed STI/HIV prevention materials on Facebook within 1 year prior to the study. The theory of planned behavior was used to help understand and interpret the findings. Participants completed an online self-report survey containing questions about their exposure to sexual health messages on Facebook and their intent to change behavior. Results of the multiple logistic regression analyses indicated that gender (p =.462), age (p =.122), education (p =.593), and income (p =.200) were not statistically associated with the dependent variable, intent to change risky sexual behaviors. A majority of respondents indicated the intention to change their sexual behaviors as a result of viewing HIV prevention messages on Facebook, and that the messages were the most important factor in their decision to change behavior. Facebook messaging may be an effective platform for reaching African Americans and influencing behavior; however more research is needed to fully understand the use of social media for STI prevention. The social change implication of this research is the potential to decrease HIV/STI associated morbidity and mortality among this population.