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Facebook Can Stop Syphilis

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Facebook safe-sex campaigns help prevent sexually transmitted diseases, at least for a while, according to a new report.

    Scientists at the University of Colorado recruited 1,578 young African-American and Latino adults between 18 and 24 a project on condom use, one of the mainstays of preventing sexually-transmitted diseases, the Toronto Sun reported. Some of the participants signed up on a Facebook page called Just/Us which focused on condom use, sexually transmitted diseases and how to discuss sexual history with one's partner. (Other participants signed up for a Facebook page called 18-24 News, which shared news items of aimed at their age group and served as a control group.) The original article appeared in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

    After two months 68 percent of those signed up for Just/Us said they used condoms in their last sexual encounter, while only 56 percent of the control group reported condom use.

    "The use of social media to influence sexual risk behavior in the short term is novel. It is a first step in considering how to reach the overwhelming numbers of youth online," lead investigator Sheana S. Bull said in a press release.
    However, participants lost interest in the safe-sex page and after six months its results were no different than the control group. "Although this type of attrition has been documented in other online STI-related research, it underscores the need to redouble efforts to attract and engage higher-risk youth in prevention efforts using social media," Bull said.
    Like anything on the Internet, eventually interest wanes, but with continued good content Facebook just might be helpful to public health.

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