Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Healing the Flesh in Cyberspace

This morning's article in the Los Angeles Times about websites targeting the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, "Health Officials Cast Web at STD's," shows how the anonymity of the World Wide Web can also work to the benefit of public health agencies. Some, like inSPOT LA, allow users to send anonymous postcards that notify sexual partners if they have discovered that they are HIV positive. Those who receive these unwelcome e-cards can go to the site for information about testing services. Other sites use specific social marketing techniques, including those used on children, such as My Sexy City, which deploys animated characters and emphasizes making "safe" choices. AIDS educators are also visiting chatrooms in popular gay sites to emphasize public health practices in online discourse.

Sexual partners can also be objectionable for more quotidian reasons than life-threatening diseases. For another form of community around the sharing of knowledge, see the websites discussed in "(Name Here) is a Liar and a Cheat" in which women reveal information about men who are untrustworthy boyfriends. Supposedly, men can request to have their names removed if they are listed unfairly as romantic offenders.

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Blogger Julia Lupton said...

The flip side of your other post about the aide arrested for soliciting a minor! The techniques of sex ed documented here also diverge from the forms of public health communication analysed elsewhere on Virtualpolitik. Whereas those campaigns (such as "Small Steps") have learned their techniques from corporate advertising, these ventures seem more genuinely grass-roots, inspired by the experiences and needs of the internet-daters themselves.

6:44 AM  

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