Internet access and Internet use for health information among people living with HIV-AIDS

Seth C Kalichman, Lance Weinhardt, Eric Benotsch, Kari DiFonzo, Webster Luke, James Austin
Patient Education and Counseling 2002, 46 (2): 109-16
Widespread access to the Internet has the potential to improve the health care and quality of life of people with chronic illnesses, including people living with HIV-AIDS. However, the Internet is not equally accessible to all persons. We surveyed 96 men and 51 women living with HIV-AIDS regarding their experiences using the Internet. Results showed that persons with 12 or fewer years of education were significantly less likely to have used the Internet and were less likely to have been instructed in Internet use. A broad range of health-related Internet activities was reported including searching for health, AIDS-specific information, and using the Internet to communicate with providers. Among current Internet users, individuals who had an Internet connection in their home reported significantly more experiences using the Internet, including Internet use for interpersonal communication and search functions. A digital divide therefore exists among people living with HIV-AIDS, and the benefits of the Internet appear better achieved with home access.

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