Online resources for persons recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS: An analysis of HIV-related webpages

Keith J. Horvath, Eileen M. Harwood, Cari Courtenay-Quirk, Mary McFarlane, Holly Fisher, Tina Dickenson, Rachel Kachur, B. R.Simon Rosser, Ann O'Leary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The Internet is a major source of HIV-related information and resources for persons recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS (PRDHA). This study examined the types of HIV-related websites that appear as a result of HIV-related keyword searches and the extent to which website information targets PRDHA. The first page of HIV-related webpages from 18 keyword searches was coded. Among 137 webpages meeting inclusion criteria, 63% represented HIV-informational websites, 31% targeted HIV-positive individuals, and over half contained or provided access to HIV prevention, treatment, and transmission information. Thirty-three percent of webpages contained or provided access to PRDHA-targeted information, with a greater percentage of those webpages having mobile, non-English, and "Ask the Expert" features compared with non-PRDHA targeted webpages. Implications for PRDHA include the following: (1) they should explore HIV-related websites to gain insight into the credibility of the information contained on those sites; (2) PRDHA must be aware that HIV-related websites have the potential to elicit dated, emotionally distressing, or irrelevant information; and (3) to obtain information that relates to their demographic and situational profile, they may wish to use specific key terms (e.g., "HIV women") rather than attempting to navigate webpages that arise from general search terms (e.g., "HIV"). Recommendations for future development of online resources for PRDHA include providing HIV-relevant information in a stepwise fashion, providing demographically targeted HIV information, and greater utilization of mobile technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-531
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement #5UR6PS000341. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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