Getting their feet in the door: Communication cues to action for HIV testing and condom use behaviors among Hispanic/Latinx college students

Abstract: Hispanic/Latinx youth in the U.S. are disproportionately affected by HIV, and are in need of culturally, linguistically, and developmentally tailored HIV prevention programs focused on expanding routine screening and environmental prevention efforts. With SAMHSA support, we implemented an HIV prevention campaign targeting 18- to 24-year-old Hispanic/Latinx college students. Based on formative feedback, both traditional communication and social media channels were employed to motivate students to seek free-of-charge on-campus HIV testing. Participants’ attitudes regarding the benefits of and confidence in condom use were also examined. From 2015 to 2018, 1406 Hispanic 18-24 year olds received an on-campus HIV test; for nearly half, this was their first HIV test ever. Among first time testers, the reasons for not getting tested sooner included that over 70% thought they were unlikely to have an HIV infection, over 20% said they did not know where to get tested, and 10% reported being afraid to find out their status. Moreover, participants reported a variety of cues to seeking testing: just under half reported printed flyers, on-campus lawn signs, and word-of-mouth, and almost 15% reported social media. Repeat testers (n = 717) were significantly more likely than first time testers to report hearing about HIV testing through social media. There were significant gains from baseline to the 1-month follow-up in both perceived advantages of condom use and confidence in condom use. Our study showed that messages conveyed through traditional communication channels remain important and serve as cues to seek HIV testing for Hispanic/Latinx college students, especially those who have never before been tested.

Clarke, R. D., Fernandez, S. B., Morris, S. L., Howard, M., Wagner, E. F., & Wales, E. (2020). Getting their feet in the door: communication cues to action for HIV testing and condom use behaviors among Hispanic/Latinx college students. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 1-11. doi:10.1007/s10935-020-00610-3