DIGITAL CONTENT

UNLEASH WEB TO FIGHT HIV IN AFRICA, STUDY

The Internet is already a source of information about Aids for children in Africa but could be more powerful if it were free, a US study says.

About one-third of adolescents in the East African nation of Uganda reported using the Internet as a source of health information in a study published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

That rate is similar to the rate in the United States, according to researchers at the California-based Internet Solutions for Kids Inc. However, an additional third of Ugandan adolescents studied said that they could use the Internet for health information if it were available without charge.

Many in Uganda, a low-income country, lack access to basic amenities like running water and electricity. The cost of accessing the Internet at cafes or elsewhere places it out of reach for many of the country's adolescents.

There are advantages - such as privacy - to getting information about sexual health online, the study's authors point out, and in many rural settings, health professionals are not available even if adolescents wish to consult with them.

Initiatives in Africa to improve online access for adolescents as well as develop content tailored for young people in specific settings could help make the Internet more useful in the fight against HIV, the study concludes.

IRVINE

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