Internet use among low-income persons recently diagnosed with HIV infection

Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
AIDS Care (Impact Factor: 1.6). 10/2007; 19(9):1182-7. DOI: 10.1080/09540120701402806
Source: PubMed


Patients are increasingly using the Internet to obtain health-related information, communicate with providers and access research. Use of the Internet to obtain health-related information by low-income patients recently diagnosed with HIV infection has not been examined. In 2005, we surveyed 126 low-income patients diagnosed with HIV infection within the last three years. Eighty-five percent of the patients were<50 years old, 63% were male, 68% were minority race, 27% were Hispanic and 61% acquired HIV through heterosexual intercourse. Twenty-eight percent never completed high school and 74% earned<$15,000 in 2004. While 89% indicated they would like to use the Internet to access information about HIV, 52% had never used the Internet, 28% had never used it to obtain health-related information and only 18% had done so at least monthly for the last six months. Two-thirds of the population studied would need instruction on how to use the Internet. In multivariable regression, 2004 income > or =$15,000 predicted monthly Internet use to obtain health-related information. Older age, heterosexual intercourse as HIV risk factor and inadequate health literacy were independent predictors of needing instruction. The low-income population with HIV infection lags behind the general population in Internet access and may not benefit from Internet-dependent advances in health communication, including HIV-related interventions.

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    • "Indeed, there are many potential hazards of using the Internet for health-related activities, including obtaining erroneous information about symptoms and treatments (Kunts et al., 2002), misinterpreting information in electronic medical records, and mismanaging healthcare accounts and schedules. These challenges may be particularly relevant for persons from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are at high risk for low health literacy (Kalichman et al., 2000) and may have difficulty effectively navigating the Internet (Blackstock et al., 2014; Mayben & Giardano, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: We sought to describe: (1) the prevalence of internet, cellular phone, and text message use among women attending an urban sexually transmitted infections (STI) clinic, (2) the acceptability of health advice by each mode of information and communication technology (ICT), and (3) demographic characteristics associated with ICT use. This study is a cross-sectional survey of 200 English-speaking women presenting to a Baltimore City STI clinic with STI complaints. Participants completed a self-administered survey querying ICT use and demographic characteristics. Three separate questions asked about interest in receiving health advice delivered by the three modalities: internet, cellular phone, and text message. We performed logistic regression to examine how demographic factors (age, race, and education) are associated with likelihood of using each modality. The median age of respondents was 27 years; 87% were African American, and 71% had a high school diploma. The rate of any internet use was 80%; 31% reported daily use; 16% reported weekly use; and 32% reported less frequent use. Almost all respondents (93%) reported cellular phone use, and 79% used text messaging. Acceptability of health advice by each of the three modalities was about 60%. In multivariate analysis, higher education and younger age were associated with internet use, text messaging, and cellular phone use. Overall rate of internet use was high, but there was an educational disparity in internet use. Cellular phone use was almost universal in this sample. All three modalities were equally acceptable forms of health communication. Describing baseline ICT access and the acceptability of health advice via ICT, as we have done, is one step toward determining the feasibility of ICT-delivered health interventions in urban populations.
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