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Digital media and sexually transmitted infections

Gilliam, Melissa; Chor, Julie; Hill, Brandon

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: October 2014 - Volume 26 - Issue 5 - p 381–385
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000104

Purpose of review Digital media, including the Internet, social networking sites, text messaging, and mobile applications, are ubiquitous among adolescents and young adults. These platforms enable users to obtain important information on a multitude of health topics, they may facilitate risk-taking behaviors, and they can be key components of health interventions. The purpose of this article is to review the recent literature on digital media and sexually transmitted infections, discussing their role in potentiating and reducing risk.

Recent findings This review demonstrates adolescents’ use of digital media to gather information on health topics and discusses significant privacy concerns regarding using media to explore sexual health information. Although several studies demonstrate an association between social media and increased sexual risk-taking behaviors, this relationship is not fully understood. Digital media-based interventions are increasingly being developed to either reduce risk or improve management of sexually transmitted infections.

Summary As greater numbers of adolescents use digital media, the potential for these platforms to influence sexual risk-taking behaviors is significant. Additional research is needed to better understand the impact of digital media on sexually transmitted infection risk and to develop social media-based interventions to improve sexually transmitted infection outcomes.

Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. USA

Correspondence to Dr Melissa Gilliam, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., MC2050, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. Tel: +1 773 834 0840; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins