HIV Prevention Intervention (411 Safe Text) – University of Colorado (Funded by NIH)
Developed and tested the 411 Safe Text Messaging program to prevent HIV among low-income urban youth and young adults.
2007-2008
There are many challenges in reaching urban adolescents with healthy lifestyle information. While many youth are “spreading their wings” toward independence from parental control, striving to make their own choices, we know that adolescence is also a time of life when many of the health-risk behaviors (e.g., smoking, drug use, physical inactivity, poor nutrition or high-risk sexual behavior) begin that may have negative effects later in life. At the same time, urban teens and low-income Black youth have proven to be the early adopters for the most cutting-edge technology. This combination of realities led MEE to explore using e-health applications to tackle HIV prevention among low-income youth and young adults.

MEE partnered with Dr. Sheana Bull [LinkedIn] from University of Colorado at Denver (UCD) Health Sciences Center to develop and audience-test the “411 HIV” concept, a new e-health technology application, to respond to this urgent need. In this Internet and cell phone-driven application, youth and young adults signed up to receive and respond to text messages promoting safe sexual behavior and healthy nutrition habits on their mobile phones.  For the project, MEE developed, tested and applied a text messaging system for communicating health-promotion messages to urban youth on their mobile phones, two-way pagers or other handheld messaging devices. Messages countered the intrusive and negative impact of advertising media with positive messages.

Since the younger generation historically pushes technology and is almost always “connected,” the concept uses the medium and devices that are an intrinsic part of today’s youth culture as intervention points for culturally relevant, healthy messages.  As a foundation, MEE conducted formative audience research for the project, using a mixed methodology of qualitative and quantitative methods.  MEE then provided message and media production services to UCD to develop and audience-test the 411 Safe Text concept.  We also co-lead the implementation of the cell phone-based intervention and its technical program delivery protocol.

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