Exploring the Efficacy of Social Media Based HIV Prevention Strategies for Hispanic College Students

Sofia B Fernandez, Florida International University


Hispanics now constitute the largest ethnic minority group in the U.S. As the country’s fastest growing demographic, social welfare and public health professionals should focus on ameliorating health issues affecting this population. However, Hispanics continue to experience health disparities including high rates of HIV infection. Moreover, South Florida, is home to two counties with the highest per capita incidence of HIV in the U.S. Risks for HIV are heightened in college settings where individuals may have multiple partners and inconsistent condom use. As such, Hispanic college students in a minority serving institution in Miami, FL comprise an ideal group for the implementation of targeted prevention efforts to decrease health disparities related to HIV. This dissertation evaluated the implementation of an HIV prevention effort that utilized social media based technologies to engage Hispanic college students in HIV prevention conversations and services. This dissertation (1) evaluated the effectiveness of exposure to a social media based campaign using an experimental design and (2) provided a systematic review of the campaign’s content and user interactivity. Participants were recruited from students electing to receive free HIV testing on-campus as part of a SAMHSA-funded project. Hispanic young adults (ages 18-24 years) completed baseline and follow-up assessments—reporting demographic and background characteristics as well as perceptions and incorporation of HIV preventive behaviors. Participants were randomized to social media exposure (n=30) or control (n=30) conditions. The exposure condition received three updates per week in the form of social media post updates. Follow-up assessments occurred 4 weeks after HIV testing. Mixed ANOVA and logistic regression analysis were used to examine the impact of exposure over time by comparing mean scores of baseline and follow-up responses between conditions. This dissertation examined the following outcomes: awareness of HIV testing and prevention services, confidence of using condoms, perceived benefits of using condoms, and frequency of reported protected sex acts. While analyses revealed no statistically significant differences between groups, McNemar’s test results indicated a statistically significant increase in awareness of HIV prevention services on the university campus for participants in both study conditions (p< .001). These exploratory results indicate further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of social media based strategies and how such technologies should be harnessed to achieve HIV prevention goals.

Subject Area

Social work

Recommended Citation

Fernandez, Sofia B, "Exploring the Efficacy of Social Media Based HIV Prevention Strategies for Hispanic College Students" (2017). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10930418.