Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases

Use of social media platform to affect the perceived norms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases by college students


Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among the American youth remains are a social problem and persistent health issue of concern. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15-24 years are at risk of acquiring STDs (Tyler & Melander, 2012).

The prevalence rate of unprotected sex and sexually transmitted diseases among the college students is an increasing concern for the public health. Young people are sexually adventurous and often tend to engage in unsafe sexual practices which are often associated with sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies (Bull et al., 2012).

Despite the fact that sexually transmitted diseases are preventable, there are more than 15 million sexually transmitted infections incidences in the USA. Individuals infected with STDs are two times are likely to acquire STI that have no cure such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and HIV.

The most effective approaches to control sexually transmitted diseases among the college students include use of condoms and abstinence. Previous intervention have focused on educational programs to reduce sexually transmitted and negative consequences associated with risky sexually behavior. However, these programs are less effective (Young & Jordan, 2013).

The youth’s risks are influenced in part by their perception about risky sexual behaviors and the peer’s perceptions. Therefore, if their peers engage in risky behaviors, they are likely to engage in risky behaviors and if they believe that the peers engage in healthy behavior, then they are likely to engage in healthy behavior too.

This behavior is best described by the Theories of Reasoned Action and Planned Behavior (TRA/TPB). According to these theories, if a person believes that the other reasons like him or her, they will endorse a particular behavior or will behave in a specific way and is more likely to enact the behavior regardless of their internal knowledge (Young & Jordan, 2013). This study aimed at evaluating if the use of social norms media strategies affects the perceived norms of risky sexual behavior among youths (Aged 17-24 years) (Guse et al., 2012).

Description of the evidence based topic

Social norms media campaigns have been found successful at lowering unhealthy lifestyles such as alcohol and tobacco campaigns.  The research was a youth driven social media based campaign that aimed at increasing knowledge about risky sexual behaviors among the youth 18-24 years.  Social media technology is constantly used by the youths making it a strategic outlet to provide interventions to risky sexual behaviors to the adolescents.

The campaign used combined the traditional media (print materials) and the modern approaches (Facebook, twitter). The primary objective of this project was to evaluate the preliminary influence of using social media to increase health awareness and knowledge about risky sexual behaviors (Black, Schmiege, & Bull, 2013).

In order to reduce the high risk behaviors, it is important to close the gap between the actual norm and perceived norm. To determine the actual and perceived norms of sexual behaviors among the college students, a thorough literature review was conducted from the National Health Statistics 2011 Reports. The data collected was then used design the print materials for poster and Facebook campaign for Southeast University Campus.

The posters were distributed among the college students.  After eight weeks, an electronic short multiple choice survey was conducted among the college students in the campus to evaluate the impact of the social media poster captains on believability, retention of messages, recall of the poster signs, and their perception of risky sexual behaviors.

Presentation of evidence analysis

  According  to National Health Statistics 2011 Reports reported that 11% women aged 15-25  have never had sexual encounter, 69%  had one partner and nearly 8% of the youths had multiple partners in the past 12 months (Chandra, Copen, & Mosher, 2013). Data analysis was done to evaluate if the perceptions of peer risky sexual behavior have a narrow normative gap as compared to the previous analyzed data.

From the 124 participants, 46% of the participants did not believe the message and had higher perceived norm of multiple sexual partners had in the past 12 months, whereas 24% believed the message had one number of sexual partners.  Approximately 30% of the participants recalled the posters and social media content and had lower perceived number of sex partners as compared to those who did not see the media content.  

However, the extent of risky sexual behavior obtained from the regional data was significantly different from the post intervention data. There was less number of perceived partners and sexual activity for students in this college than the post-intervention than the data.

 From this study, it is evident that youths have poor knowledge on the dangers of risky sexual behavior. Unfortunately, it was difficult to determine the extent of interaction had with the campaign media prior to the completion of the survey. Therefore, it was difficult to interpret if the campaign was effective in changing their perception and believes about risky sexual behavior.

However, it is evident that peer behaviors are an important factor when predicting the actual risk behavior among the youth (Dowshen et al., 2015). The understanding of peer influence through social media is still limited. There is need to research the relationship between the perceived norm and actual norm. The widespread use of social networking sites by the youths is an ideal venue to reach the youth with tailored strategic health awareness knowledge.

It has been demonstrated that internet based interventions will improve sexual behavior and health outcomes. This study indicates that technology based initiatives can be superior as compared to the traditional methods, especially in changing youths attitudes towards the reproductive health information (Tyler & Melander, 2012).


 This study highlights the need to the need to adopt new strategies to educate the youths regarding risky sexual behavior. The interventions should engage the youth while respecting their privacy. The new interventions should include mobile optimization because most of the new media information is best consumed this way by the youths. Ultimately, the campaign indicated some feasibility in informing the young adults with optimal social media strategies and it provided a platform that can be used to shape the future social media based campaigns.


Black, S. R., Schmiege, S., & Bull, S. (2013). Actual versus perceived peer sexual risk behavior in online youth social networks. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 3(3), 312–319.

Bull, S. S., Levine, D. K., Black, S. R., Schmiege, S. J., & Santelli, J. (2012). Social media–delivered sexual health intervention: a cluster randomized controlled trial. American journal of preventive medicine, 43(5), 467-474.

Chandra, A., Copen, C. E., & Mosher, W. D. (2013). Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual identity in the United States: Data from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. In International handbook on the demography of sexuality (pp. 45-66). Springer Netherlands.

Dowshen, N., Lee, S., Lehman, B. M., Castillo, M., & Mollen, C. (2015). IknowUshould2: Feasibility of a Youth-Driven Social Media Campaign to Promote STI and HIV Testing Among Adolescents in Philadelphia. AIDS and Behavior, 19(0 2), 106–111.

Guse, K., Levine, D., Martins, S., Lira, A., Gaarde, J., Westmorland, W., & Gilliam, M. (2012). Interventions using new digital media to improve adolescent sexual health: a systematic review. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(6), 535-543.

Tyler, K. A., & Melander, L. A. (2012). Individual and Social Network Sexual Behavior Norms of Homeless Youth at High Risk for HIV Infection. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(12), 2481–2486.

Young, S. D., & Jordan, A. H. (2013). The Influence of Social Networking Photos on Social Norms and Sexual Health Behaviors. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 16(4), 243–247.

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