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Mobile Health

MSM's Social Media and Mobile Health

Around the world, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are often considered “hidden populations,” especially in high-stigma locations and homophobic environments. The hidden nature of these populations presents significant barriers to public health practitioners seeking to implement targeted health promotion interventions. At the same time, most MSM meet their sex partners online, typically through mobile hookup apps, than through any other venue, posing solutions for widespread interventions.

Our team has documented MSM’s experience of online spaces and partnered to reduce HIV/STI risk through mobile devices. We have experimentally demonstrated that MSM’s rejection from other MSM in online contexts can lead to mental distress, diminished gay community, and risk taking. We are therefore creating interventions to improve MSM’s experience of hookup apps to protect their mental and sexual health.

We have also worked with our colleagues to create interventions for sexual and gender minorities delivered via mobile technologies. With our colleague Corina Lelutiu-Weinberger (Rutgers University), we have created a highly accessible mobile health intervention capable of reducing HIV/STI risk behaviors and improving mental health among MSM in Romania, one of the few countries with a starkly increasing prevalence of HIV among this population. Future projects will implement this intervention in high-stigma, low-resource countries across the region.