PowerON: The use of instant message counseling and the Internet to facilitate HIV/STD education and prevention

David A. Moskowitz, Dan Melton, Jill Owczarzak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: In recent years, Internet-based or online counseling has emerged as an effective way to assess psychological disorders and discuss destructive behaviors with individuals or groups of individuals. This study explores the application of online counseling to HIV/STD risk-taking behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM). Methods: PowerON, an organization that provides sexual health information to MSM exclusively online, used instant message technology to counsel MSM in real time through computer-mediated means. A sample of 279 transcripts of instant message exchanges between PowerON counselors and Gay.com users were recorded and qualitatively analyzed. Results: Approximately 43% of the instant message sessions discussed information about HIV/STD testing. Risk-taking behaviors were addressed in 39% of the sessions. Information about HIV/STDs and general counseling were given in 23% and 18% of the counseling sessions, respectively. Conclusion: The data showed these instant message sessions to be a potentially feasible forum for HIV/STD counseling. Practice implications: Information ordinarily disseminated at health clinics could be successfully distributed through the Internet to MSM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV/STD counseling
  • Online counseling
  • PowerON
  • Risk-taking behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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