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Computer-based interventions to prevent HIV and other STIs

Health Factors: Sexual Activity
Decision Makers: Educators Employers & Businesses Healthcare Professionals & Advocates Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 1-9% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to increase disparities

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Computer-based interventions focused on decreasing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) provide participants with information on health issues of interest as well as computer-mediated decision making, behavior change, and emotional support. These interactive programs incorporate contributions from users to produce tailored material and feedback that is personally relevant. Programs may be delivered on personal computers or over the internet.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased HIV and STI knowledge
Increased self-efficacy
Reduced risky sexual behavior
Delayed initiation of sex
Increased condom use

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that computer-based interventions increase knowledge about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), self-efficacy, and safe-sex intentions among adults and adolescents (Guse 2012, Noar 2010, Cochrane-Bailey 2010). These inventions have also been shown to increase condom use and decrease the number of sexual partners (Noar 2009).

Among adolescents, computer-based interventions may also delay initiation of sex and increase pregnancy prevention knowledge (Guse 2012), however, additional evidence is needed to confirm these effects.

Interventions that are tailored to individual users tend to be most successful (Noar 2009, Noar 2010, Cochrane-Bailey 2010). Provision of individualized feedback, promotion of active learning, anonymity, and repeatability are also frequently components of effective computer-based interventions (Cochrane-Bailey 2010).

Computer-based interventions can be easily disseminated and can be relatively inexpensive (Cochrane-Bailey 2010).


United States

Positive Choices is an example of a successful computer-based intervention that implements tailoring (CDC-Positive Choice).  

Citations - Evidence

Cochrane-Bailey 2010* - Bailey J, Murray E, Rait G, et al. Interactive computer-based interventions for sexual health promotion. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010;(9):CD006483. Accessed on December 8, 2015
Guse 2012* - Guse K, Levine D, Martins S, et al. Interventions using new digital media to improve adolescent sexual health: A systematic review. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2012;51(6):535–43. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Noar 2009 - Noar SM, Black HG, Pierce LB. Efficacy of computer technology-based HIV prevention interventions: a meta-analysis. AIDS. 2009;23(1):107-15. Accessed on May 20, 2016
Noar 2010* - Noar SM, Pierce LB, Black HG. Can computer-mediated interventions change theoretical mediators of safer sex? A meta-analysis. Human Communication Research. 2010;36(3):261-97. Accessed on May 20, 2016

Citations - Implementation

CDC-Positive Choice - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Positive choice: Interactive video doctor. Accessed on January 11, 2016

Page Last Updated

September 10, 2014

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