Author Archives: Travis

Highlights from Sex::Tech 2012

Elaine and Derek are nurses who have been delivering expert and tailored sexual health information to various online communities for nearly 8 years, through a cyber-outreach program at BCCDC. We’re very fortunate to be able to work with them on several components of our proram, notably the nurse chat feature of SmartSexBC. Derek and Elaine are in San Francisco this week attending Sex::Tech 2012. Here’s what they had to say about the opening plenary:

Lots of talk at Sex::Tech in San Francisco about the value of using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to reach youth.

Texting is another way that people are reaching youth. One reason being that some youth can’t afford smart phones. One program in Orlando has created a “text hotline” that gets 300- 400 texts per month from youth asking question about sexual health. Another group found that personal responses to text questions resulted in the most communication.

But all presenters involved in sexual health education via social media said it is important to ask youth about the best way to connect with them…… whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or whatever comes next.

Anyone remember MySpace?

We heard an interesting opening presentation by Jason Rivera on social media and human connection. He says humans have a basic need to seek connections with other people and social media can be an effective way to meet that need.

He talked about short term connection for immediate emotional needs and long term attachment for emotional wellness. Social media approaches can be tailored to those needs.  Rivera says that different personality types respond differently to content, so targeted approaches and content are needed to make connection meaningful. The future success of social media will focus on building a reputation and establishing deeper connections via constant communication.

Lighthouses in a treacherous ocean of information

Even though remote diagnosis is usually impossible, the information and follow-on readings provided are lighthouses that guide us through the treacherous ocean of information out there. In particular, this service helps us find the good information and, in general, raises the level of awareness of STDs, which is very important for such a forum. I wish the service could be expanded to have a presence in similar forums and boards.

For 8 years outreach nurses from the BCCDC have been delivering much-needed and appreciated sexual health information to a number of online communities. Last year we decided to sample 100 of these clients on just one site to better understand what they like about the service and how we can make it better. This information is especially helpful as we think through some of the nurse-engagement functions on the new SmartSexBC website.

Results from this survey are being presented this week at the National STD Conference in Minneapolis. Take a look at our poster to what clients had to say…

“It gives me agency over my own healthcare…”

I can’t speak for all people, but certainly for a lot of people in my generation, well our generation, certainly, it’s just um easier. You get to, it’s the email thing, your results are ready, you check it, and then you can call someone…I prefer it because…it sort of gives me agency over my own health care in a way, like, in the sense that here’s the information, I can do with it what I choose, rather than relying on some doctor or some nurse that I may not know to sort of decide how they’re going to do it and sort of be in that emotional space, you know. I can then decide how I approach it.

– GetCheckedBC focus group participant, Vancouver, BC, spring 2011

Last spring we brought together 39 of our clinic clients and gay, bisexual, and two-spirit men from the community to get input to our model for internet-based testing. We’ve previously shared a high-level summary of results from these focus groups.

We’re happy to announce that a full report of these results has been published in the online, open-access Journal of Medical Internet Research. You can access the publication at the following link:

Like peanut butter and jelly…

Last month Mark Gilbert presented at BCCDC Grand Rounds along with our co-researcher and collaborator, Jeannie Shoveller, on the integration of research with program development, in relation to our Online Sexual Health Services.

The video and slides from their presentation entitled Navigating the New Frontier: Developing online sexual health services for BC are available for you to watch online.

We’d love to hear what you think!

On the Internet, nobody knows who you snog

We were recently asked to contribute a guest blog piece about HIV and technology for the Pacific AIDS Network (PAN). Given the ongoing stigma experienced in relation to HIV in many communities in BC, we decided to highlight what online services can offer in the way of an anonymous or “faceless” encounter. You can read more at the PAN blog:


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