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Web 2.0 and beyond: risks for sexually transmitted infections and opportunities for prevention

Rietmeijer, Cornelis Aa,b; McFarlane, Maryc

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: February 2009 - Volume 22 - Issue 1 - p 67–71
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e328320a871
Sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections: Edited by Anton L. Pozniak

Purpose of review The continued growth of the Internet as a communication medium has had major implications for the transmission and prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The purpose of this review is to describe recent developments in this rapidly changing environment.

Recent findings The interface between the Internet and STIs is described from three perspectives: the Internet as a risk environment, that is, a place where prospective, potentially STI-infected, sex partners can be recruited; the Internet as a venue where public health prevention interventions aimed at STIs and HIV prevention can be placed; and the Internet as an increasingly important work environment for all STI prevention disciplines.

Summary The review highlights recent developments and identifies potential avenues for future research and program development. The increasing interactivity of the Internet, known as ‘Web 2.0’, especially the user-driven social networking sites that allow users to share near limitless amounts of personal information with their peers in the network, is compounding the potential of the Internet as an environment for both STI risk and prevention.

aInternet and STD Center of Excellence, Denver Public Health Department, USA

bColorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA

cDivision of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Correspondence to Cornelis A. Rietmeijer, MD, PhD, Internet and STD Center of Excellence, Denver Public Health Department, 605 Bannock Street, Denver, CO 80204 4507, USA Tel: +1 303 602 3633; fax: +1 303 602 3615; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.