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National Guidelines for Internet-based STD and HIV Prevention

Date Published: 
November 16, 2010

Accessing the Power of the Internet for Public Health: Guidelines for Internet-based STD/HIV Prevention is a user-friendly document developed to aid health departments and community-based nonprofit organizations use the Internet as a tool for the control and prevention of STDs including HIV.

The Guidelines focus on three distinct types of Internet activities: Internet-based Partner Services (IPS), Outreach, and Health Communications. These three activities were chosen based on their current use in the field (IPS), and the overarching nature for which other online activities derive (Outreach and Health Communications). While IPS is a discrete interaction with a trained Internet-Disease Intervention Specialist, STD/HIV outreach and health communication activities carried out online are intended to be broad reaching.

Internet-Based Partner Services

This section of the Internet Guidelines makes recommendations for conducting Internet-based partner services (IPS), which includes Internet-based partner notification (IPN), for both STDs and HIV, in virtual settings, such as through e-mail, instant messaging (IM) and in chat rooms. STD and HIV IPS has been combined into a single set of recommendations, because, while programs may have different approaches to Internetbased STD/HIV work, certain basic programmatic and staff requirements are necessary for the work to be effective.

Internet-Based Outreach

This section of the Internet Guidelines makes recommendations for conducting STD/HIV prevention outreach and recruitment activities on the Internet and through virtual settings, such as chat rooms, social networks, bulletin boards, e-mail groups, and other online communities. For the purposes of this document, outreach is defined as a virtual interaction between an STD/HIV prevention professional, such as an outreach worker, and a person or persons at risk for STDs or HIV for the purposes of providing STD/HIV related: health information and education, referrals and access to services, recruitment for testing and treatment, and support for reducing risk behaviors.

Internet-Based Health Communication

Released October 2009, the Guidelines for Internet-based Health Communications offer public health professionals useful information on creating health messages for new media.  Information as to how to disseminate messages through newsfeeds, podcasts, videos, and blogs is also included.