'What next?' How a UK web-site meets the needs of MSM recently diagnosed with HIV

Published: July 21, 2010

G. Brough1,2, A. Wardle3

1Terrence Higgins Trust, Policy & Public Affairs, London, United Kingdom, 2Bloomsbury Patients Network, London, United Kingdom, 3Terrence Higgins Trust, Health Promotion, London, United Kingdom

Issues: Research shows most MSM prefer to receive health information online (67.8%), especially when anonymity is important. No UK web-site existed for MSM newly diagnosed with HIV. Isolation, anxiety and knowledge gaps were identified by focus groups and professionals as obstacles to men managing their lives after diagnosis and to living well with HIV.
Description: Terrence Higgins Trust held three focus groups with men diagnosed in the last year to ascertain their needs, informing the creation of the ‘What Next?’ web-site (www.tht.org.uk/whatnext). It covers basic HIV science, health and treatment, sex and love, disclosure of HIV status, dealing with medical staff and accessing support. Questions can be emailed to a health promoter and a quiz acts as a learning tool. Video testimonies and online diaries describe life after diagnosis.
Lessons learned: Interactivity and ease of navigation are key to success. Learning from those diagnosed longer should be a key objective in such interventions. Seeing men’s testimonials via film and diaries is highly rated, with a desire for an upbeat focus on men in good health. Many prefer the anonymity of online interaction over face-to-face or telephone communication. The most visited sections cover simple science (transmission and effects of HIV) and sex and love. Of 23, 568 (18, 612 unique) visitors in the first 18 months, 63% were from Britain (USA 15%, Canada 3%, Australia 1.7%, India 1.5%).
Next steps: Ongoing promotion of the site is required to maintain interest and end-user evaluation is forthcoming. ‘What Next?’ is part of a wider programme of Terrence Higgins Trust initiatives for MSM with HIV. These include online outreach, a lifestyle magazine and group work programmes (recently diagnosed and self-management courses), as well as a group for uninfected partners. ‘What Next?’ will act as a model for similar sites (eg, UK-based Africans).

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