Stop My Smoking (SMS USA)

Even though smoking-related diseases are the single most preventable cause of death in the United States, effective smoking cessation programs that are targeted to young adults are lacking. Stop My Smoking (SMS USA) is a text messaging-based smoking cessation program developed for young adults in the United States. The 6-week program is associated with increased rates of quitting at 4-weeks. The program was developed and tested in partnership with colleagues at Michigan State University and the University Of Texas School of Public Health at Houston.

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Cape Town Adolescent Health Survey

HIV/AIDS is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in South Africa, where an estimated one in five adults are HIV positive.  Young people bear a particularly high disease burden: 34% of new cases of HIV occur among those 15-24 years of age.  Moreover, it is estimated that if the current HIV infection rates remain stable in South Africa, 50% of 15-year-olds alive today will die from AIDS.  The impact that HIV is having on South African adolescents cannot be overstated.  Several researchers have recently noted that adolescent-focused interventions in South Africa are not having an impact as effective as desired.  Certainly, interventions that are low-cost, scalable, and modifiable to reflect changing behavioral trends, such as the Internet and text messaging, should be considered as additional tools to add to the arsenal of available HIV prevention programs. We conducted a survey i …

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Teen Health and Technology

Because of contextual factors such as prejudice and social isolation, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth consistently report victimization rates higher than heterosexual youth. It is possible that LGBT youth may similarly face increased risk for victimization online. Alternatively, because the Internet equalizes the playing field by allowing people to communicate and find social support that may be lacking in face-to-face relationships, the Internet may represent a positive influence in the lives of LGBT youth. Using an innovative online data collection strategy that enabled us to over-recruit LGBT youth as part of a larger sample of young Internet users, the Teen Health and Technology study examined the potential risk and protective factors that Internet use poses to adolescent health. Findings have applied implications for adolescent health research by identifying pos …

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HIV and AIDS continue to be a public health problem, and this is particularly true in sub-Saharan Africa.  Concurrently, there has been an explosion in technology use. Taking advantage of this increased access, we developed and tested an online, evidence-based HIV prevention program designed for adolescents in Uganda called CyberSenga.  In Uganda, the Senga is the father’s sister typically responsible for offering female children advice and guidance—including sexual health advice—to youth as they transition from childhood to adulthood.  The Kojja is the male equivalent. We adopted the Senga and Kojja concepts to present a culturally salient, trustworthy role model for the youth to follow throughout the intervention.  The CyberSenga program provides information about HIV, shows young people useful ways to solve problems and communicate with others about their needs, and shows young people …

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Healthy Relationships East Africa

HIV/AIDS is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in eastern Africa. For example, in Uganda, an estimated 7.3% adults HIV positive. Men who have sex with men (MSM) bear a particularly high disease burden. Despite this increased risk, there is a considerable dearth of scientific literature documenting the barriers and facilitators to behavior change in this vulnerable population. We need to better understand the HIV risk and protective behaviors of MSM and other sexual minority men in Uganda, if we are to develop effective prevention programming. The almost complete lack of research examining the HIV risk of sexual minority women and transgender people is also problematic. Despite assumptions that sexual minority women are not at risk for HIV, compelling seroprevalence and HIV risk behavior data suggest otherwise. Of the handful of studies that have been published on African tran …

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