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New media challenges and opportunities
  1. Lisa B Hightow-Weidman1,
  2. Kathryn E Muessig1,2
  1. 1 Departme nt of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2 Department of Health Behavior, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lisa B Hightow-Weidman, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7030, USA; lisa_hightow{at}

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Interventions that capitalise on pervasive new media technologies are critical to addressing the continued HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM). The term new media as used here encompasses the digital content typically accessible through the Internet that usually includes aspects of user feedback and creative participation. Although what is considered ‘new’ today is ever-changing, broadly, these interventions include technology-based approaches that use social networking sites (eg, Facebook, Twitter), mobile dating/hook-up apps that employ global positioning system technology to connect users based on their location (eg, Grindr, Jack'd) and researcher-developed applications (apps) that enable dialogue between users. New media technologies allow for the delivery of tailored content that is specific to each user's risk behaviours and context, provide a platform for diffusion and scalability not possible with in-person interventions, and facilitate recruitment, engagement and retention of MSM in interventions. Reviews of published work—including a review published by our team in 20151—detail formative studies that demonstrate MSM receptivity to new media interventions; larger trial results are more limited, but are underway.1–3 In this editorial, we discuss new media challenges and opportunities and highlight examples of interventions, existing and under development, that are using new media approaches in novel ways.

The number of publicly available HIV/STI-related new media technologies along the continuum of prevention and care has exploded over the past decade.1 ,2 Yet, what is commercially available is not necessarily reflective of the populations most at risk. To illustrate, a May 2015 systematic inventory of Android and iOS mobile apps identified 285 apps relevant to HIV/STI prevention. These apps were generally free (83%), and about half (53%) reported information about one or more HIV/STI prevention modalities.3 While the number of HIV-related apps increased more than 400% from …

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  • Contributors LBH-W conceived of the original idea and organisation for this editorial. LBH-W and KEM collaboratively developed a detailed outline; LBH-W wrote the first draft; KEM revised and expanded. Both authors revised, refined and approved of the final version.

  • Funding National Institute of Mental Health (1R01MH093275-01).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.