Background/introduction Increased risk-taking behaviour, sexual networks, and sexually transmitted infections have been attributed to the rapid increase in social media use. YouTube is a video sharing, revenue generating website that’s content is not scientifically vetted, and any registered user can post media content.
Aim(s)/objectives The objective of this study was to determine how HIV related issues are portrayed on YouTube.
Methods A YouTube account was created using ‘worldwide’ and ‘English UK’ settings. The search engine was cleared, Flash Player cache emptied, and cookies removed. Each of the following search terms was used: ‘HIV’, ‘AIDS’, ‘PrEP’ and ‘HIV home testing’. Inclusion criteria: first 60 videos. Exclusion criteria: >10 minute duration, exclusively non-HIV content, not in English. Each video was scored by 2 investigators.
Discussion/conclusion Social media is an accessible source of information to the general public and healthcare professionals. When four search terms were compared, “HIV” and “AIDS” were most popular. “HIV” generated the most viewer-engagement. Following Charlie Sheen’s HIV disclosure and publication of PrEP studies (November 2015), there was a massively increased use of “HIV” and “PrEP” search terms. 10% (15/149) of videos contained factual inaccuracies with 40% (6/15) potentially causing significant harm. Due to high rate of embedded advertisements, inaccurate material, and material which could stigmatise PLWHA, it is vital that Public Health/HIV clinicians harness the potential of social media, are aware of the associated risks and strive to promote accurate information to patients.