Internet use among people living with HIV/AIDS: association of health information, health behaviors, and health status

Seth C Kalichman, Eric G Benotsch, Lance S Weinhardt, James Austin, Webster Luke
AIDS Education and Prevention: Official Publication of the International Society for AIDS Education 2002, 14 (1): 51-61
The telecommunications revolution provides open access to health information that can inform and empower people living with chronic illnesses. However, many people living with HIV may not access the Internet and are not benefiting from available health information. This study investigated Internet access among people living with HIV/AIDS and its relation to health. Results of a survey of men (n = 175) and women (n = 84) living with HIV/AIDS recruited from infectious disease clinics and community-based AIDS services showed that 51% (n = 116) of participants reported ever using the Internet, of which 59% (n = 68) had used the Internet to access health-related information. As expected, Internet users were significantly more likely to be better educated and of higher incomes. Internet users, including those who used the Internet for general purposes and those who reported health-related use, also demonstrated significantly greater knowledge of HIV disease and greater confidence in their ability to adhere to medications. Persons who used the Internet for general purposes were more likely to have an undetectable viral load compared to persons who had not used the Internet. The disparities in Internet use identified in this study suggest that individuals who access the Internet, particularly for health information, are among the better resourced and healthier persons living with HIV/AIDS.

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