- Low-Income urban African American (LIU-AA) youth are at high risk for HIV/STIs and adolescent pregnancy. Sexual health websites (SHWs) offer an inexpensive, easy-to-disseminate, and potentially highly-accessible method of improving sexual health knowledge, awareness, and help-seeking. The present study examined engagement regarding sexual health websites for at-risk, LIU-AA youth. We conducted focus groups in Chicago (n= 5 groups, total n= 29 youth) with LIU-AA adolescents, who reported a sexual-health risk event (15 years-17 years). Both same- and mixed-gender groups were conducted. We also conducted focus groups with adolescent health/service providers (n= 4 groups, total n= 22 providers).
Youth generally mistrust the internet as a credible source of information. Youth and providers agree that trust in SHWs is increased by: (a) the perceived credibility of the professional and organizational developers of the website, (b) website recommendations by highly credible local providers, and (c) inclusion of testimonials/stories by youth with sexual health problems. Trust decreases when: (a) sexual health information appears on open access websites not specific to sexual health (e.g., Wikipedia, Ask.com), and (b) professional credentials of site developers or the “date last modified” are absent. We identified a variety of environmental, person, and website factors that may be exploited to improve access to and increase trust in SHWs for LIU-AA youth.