The Internet has a number of characteristics that make it an attractive tool in health education and HIV prevention, especially for adolescents, including interactivity, privacy, the overlap between education and play, and the ability to individualize information based on an initial assessment of background conditions, interest, and knowledge. Despite these advantages, the Internet's potential in resource-poor settings with higher HIV infection rates and limited access to other health care resources has not been explored much. Michele Ybarra and colleagues now report that approximately the same proportion - roughly one-third - of adolescents in a rural setting in Uganda report having used the Internet to look up health-related information as of young people in the United States. An additional third say that they would go online to educate themselves about HIV/AIDS if Internet use was free. This study suggests that initiatives in Africa to improve online access for adolescents as well as develop content tailored for young people in specific settings would make a difference.
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Citation: Ybarra ML, Kiwanuka J, Emenyonu N, Bangsberg DR (2006) Internet use among Ugandan adolescents: Implications for HIV intervention. PLoS Med 3(11): e433.
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