Public Release: 

Crafting messages with meaning for HIV testing and research

Indiana University

Indianapolis " The power of persuasion is studied by politicians, marketing professionals, speech writers and, with the aid of a National Institutes of Health grant, Indiana University researchers who want to positively influence the health of women.

Faculty from medicine, business, nursing and biostatistics will evaluate messages designed to increase HIV testing rates and the acceptability of participation in HIV vaccine clinical trials. The study is funded by a $2.25 million, five-year National Institute of Nursing Research grant.

The focus of the research will be to identify barriers, such as cultural language nuances, and develop messages that encourage Latina, African-American, and white women to be tested for HIV and to enroll in HIV research clinical studies.

Gregory D. Zimet, Ph.D., is the principal investigator for the research grant. Dr. Zimet, who is a professor of pediatrics and of clinical psychology, has extensive research expertise in determining how individuals respond to health-related messages, particularly those involving parentsTM attitudes toward children being vaccinated for sexually transmitted diseases.

The first phase of this behavioral study will use focus group and individual interviews to identify obstacles to HIV testing and attitudes about an HIV vaccine clinical trials. Interviews will be conducted in Spanish and in English. The information from this first phase will be used to develop persuasive messages to be used later in the research.

In the second phase of the study, the researchers will evaluate the effects of different types of messages on rates of acceptance of rapid HIV testing and on attitudes about participation in a clinical trial for a preventive HIV vaccine. All the messages will be delivered via a computer-based interview which will be available in both Spanish and English.

With the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that HIV testing be routine, this research is important for learning how to reach out most effectively to women and minorities, said Dr. Zimet. We also want to understand what issues may prevent women and minorities from taking advantage of HIV/AIDS research and potential new vaccines that could save lives.


Co-investigators are Anthony D. Cox, Ph.D., professor of marketing and ChancellorTMs Faculty Fellow; Dena Cox, Ph.D., professor of marketing and Eli Lilly Faculty Fellow, both with the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis; Kenneth Fife, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine in the Section of Infectious Disease, and Rose Fife, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the IU National Center of Excellence in WomenTMs Health; Rose Mays, Ph.D., R.N., professor, Department of Family Health and associate dean for the Center for Community and International Affairs at the IU School of Nursing; and Barry P. Katz, Ph.D., director of the Division of Biostatistics and director of the Biostatistics Core for the Midwest STD Research Center at the IU School of Medicine.

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