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Mass media campaigns to prevent pregnancy & STIs

Health Factors: Sexual Activity
Decision Makers: Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to increase disparities

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Mass media interventions to decrease pregnancy and STIs use television, radio, internet, and print media to disseminate information regarding safe sex behaviors to a large population in order to increase knowledge, improve risk perception, and change behavior.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased STI testing
Increased HIV and STI knowledge
Reduced risky sexual behavior

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that mass media interventions increase frequency of HIV testing in the short-term (Cochrane-Wei 2011Cochrane-Vidanapathirana 2005) as well as knowledge about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (LaCroix 2014Noar 2009a). Such interventions may also positively affect risk behaviors such as condom use (LaCroix 2014Cochrane-Vidanapathirana 2005) and number of sexual partners in some circumstances (Cochrane-Vidanapathirana 2005). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Research suggests that the most effective mass media interventions define target populations, tailor messages to those populations (Pedrana 2013Keller 2002, Noar 2009a), coordinate with existing interventions, and use multiple channels to disseminate messages (Keller 2002, WHO-Bertrand 2006). Longer durations may increase campaign effectiveness (LaCroix 2014). Mass media campaigns may be cost effective in populations with  low rates of HIV infection (Cohen 2004a).

Mass media interventions for HIV prevention appear to be more effective in areas with fewer resources than areas with greater resources; such campaigns also appear less effective in developed countries than in developing countries (LaCroix 2014).


United States

There are a variety of mass media interventions addressing sexual and reproductive health issues in the United States. These interventions use media advocacy, public service announcements (PSAs), entertainment-education, and other media technologies (Keller 2008).

Implementation Resources

AIDSTAR - AIDSTAR-One. Behavioral interventions: Mass media and HIV prevention. Accessed on January 11, 2016

Citations - Evidence

Cochrane-Vidanapathirana 2005* - Vidanapathirana J, Abramson MJ, Forbes A, Fairley C. Mass media interventions for promoting HIV testing. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2005;(3):CD004775. Accessed on December 14, 2015
Cochrane-Wei 2011* - Wei C, Herrick A, Raymond H, et al. Social marketing interventions to increase HIV / STI testing uptake among men who have sex with men and male-to- female transgender women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(9):CD009337. Accessed on February 1, 2016
Cohen 2004a - Cohen DA, Wu SY, Farley TA. Comparing the cost-effectiveness of HIV prevention interventions. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2004;37(3):1404-14. Accessed on December 8, 2015
Keller 2002* - Keller SN, Brown JD. Media interventions to promote responsible sexual behavior. Journal of Sex Research. 2002;39(1):67-72. Accessed on February 24, 2016
LaCroix 2014* - LaCroix JM, Snyder LB, Huedo-Medina TB, Johnson BT. Effectiveness of mass media interventions for HIV prevention, 1986-2013: A meta-analysis. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2014;66(Suppl 3):S329-40. Accessed on January 28, 2016
Noar 2009a - Noar SM, Palmgreen P, Chabot M, Dobransky N, Zimmerman RS. A 10-year systematic review of HIV/AIDS mass communication campaigns: Have we made progress? Journal of Health Communication. 2009;14(1):15-42. Accessed on March 3, 2016
Pedrana 2013 - Pedrana A, Hellard M, Gold J, et al. Queer as f**k: Reaching and engaging gay men in sexual health promotion through social networking sites. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2013;15(2):e25. Accessed on November 23, 2015
WHO-Bertrand 2006 - Bertrand JT, Anhang R. The effectiveness of mass media in changing HIV/AIDS-related behavior among young people in developing countries. WHO Technical Report Series. 2006;938:205-41; discussion 317-41. Accessed on November 18, 2015

Citations - Implementation

Keller 2008 - Keller S. 3.0 Using media to address adolescent sexual health: Lessons learned at home. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; 2008. Accessed on November 9, 2015

Page Last Updated

September 23, 2014

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