Use of Social Media in HIV and Aids Communication among Undergraduate Students in South-West Nigeria
This study examined the use of social media for HIV and AIDS communication among federal university undergraduates in southwest Nigeria. More specifically, the study sought to find out the social media platforms mostly used by undergraduates; examined the factors that contribute to the use of social media for HIV and AIDS communication; explored the extent to which information on HIV and AIDS is shared through social media and investigate the perceived usefulness of social media for HIV and AIDS communication. The study used Technology Acceptance Model and Social Exchange Theory. The study used mixed method approach and adopted the normative ontological assumption: enabling the study to use quantitative and qualitative reports from different perspectives to make conclusive findings. The sample size was 384 questionnaires; with six key informant interviews and three Focus Group Discussions (FGDs comprising ten participants in each university). Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Qualitative data were analysed thematically. The results show that Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were the most favourite social media platforms used because students found them informative and easy to use. Blogs, twitter and WhatsApp were commonly used for HIV and AIDs communication across the three universities studied. Factors that negatively affected use of social media include unstable power supply, poor network connectivity due to lack of internet, unstable bandwidth and excessive cost of internet data bundles. The results also show that HIV and AIDS information was mainly on prevention methods, anti-stigma advocacy and general HIV and AIDS knowledge. However, the results revealed low dissemination of HIV and AIDS information on social media. The open discussion forums were largely initiated by government agencies, peer educators, universities and NGOs but those forums were largely neglected by the students due to lack of interest. The results revealed that the social media platforms are useful and can enable HIV and AIDS information reach a large audience and have positive effect on HIV and AIDS reduction. However, only a few of the students that had sexual intercourse within 3 months prior to this study indicated they used a condom while majority had unprotected sex despite their knowledge on HIV and AIDS through social media. Few students were motivated to connect with others for HIV and AIDS message sharing. Rather, they were encouraged to always check their HIV status. For effective HIV and AIDS communication, the government and NGOs need to focus on the social media platforms mostly used by undergraduate students such as Facebook, twitter and WhatsApp, ensure necessary infrastructure to facilitate social media usage is in place and collaborate to make sure that information shared on social media regarding HIV and AIDS is useful.
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