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Under these conditions, the health of young gay and bisexual men is compromised from multiple, co-occurring health-depleting influences, such as the inability to enact risk-reduction behaviors because of mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, which are ultimately rooted in pervasive experiences with minority stress across early development (14, 15).
Another factor related to HIV risk among young gay and bisexual men, and one that has clear implications for developing novel prevention methods, includes a growing reliance on electronic, specifically social networking, technology for initiating HIV risk behavior (e.g., meeting sex partners online; (16-18).
In-office health interventions, while generally effective for those who receive them (21), may not sufficiently target the most at-risk individuals who are often not linked to services (22-24).
Gay and bisexual men are significantly more likely to delay or avoid seeking health services compared to heterosexual men due to perceived provider bias and a relative lack of visibility of competent services for this population (25).
As emerging adulthood presents a set of unique circumstances, devising HIV risk prevention interventions specifically tailored to emerging adult gay and bisexual men remains paramount.
For young gay and bisexual men in particular, HIV risk factors in addition to unprotected sex and substance use include low awareness of HIV status, complacency about infection, and stigma and homophobia.
The present study describes the adaptation of the Young Men’s Health Project, an in-office health promotion intervention, for online delivery via social networking technology.
The adaptation was conducted using the results of three stages of focus groups and interviews with gay and bisexual men that built on each other to successively refine the resulting intervention.
Young gay and bisexual men, in particular, have been shown to be helped by online interventions, with one recent study showing that simply writing about minority stressors online significantly improved psychosocial functioning and was particularly helpful for those young gay men with relatively few social outlets (26).
Address correspondence and requests for reprints to: Corina Lelutiu-Weinberger, Ph D, Hunter AIDS Research Team, Psychology Department, Hunter College of the City University of New York, 695 Park Avenue, HN 1209, New York, NY 10065, Young gay and bisexual men who have sex with men continue to experience increases in HIV incidence in the U.
S, highlighting a need for competent health services, while the prominence of the internet in their social and sexual lives call for novel preventive modalities.
Thus, the limitations of in-office health promotion interventions may be particularly pronounced among young gay and bisexual men who seem to primarily receive health information online and for whom the internet represents a primary source of socialization, communication, and learning (19).
Not surprisingly, gay and bisexual men report strong willingness to receive health promotion intervention services online (23) with a large majority reporting already receiving sexual health information through online searches and websites.