Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

African-American Blogs Offer Key Health Communications Tool

Date:
October 2, 2008
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Blogs allow African Americans to discuss HIV and AIDS in an unfiltered way that is both public and private, according to a Penn State researcher, and this exploration may lead to another way to distribute health messages to the African-American community.

Blogs allow African Americans to discuss HIV and AIDS in an unfiltered way that is both public and private, according to a Penn State researcher, and this exploration may lead to another way to distribute health messages to the African American community.

Related Articles


Lynette Kvasny, associate professor of information sciences and technology (IST), an avid blog reader, noticed an interesting conversation on a blog following an August 2006 ABC News story, "Out of Control: AIDS in Black America."

"I was really surprised by some of the things I was reading … these were things that I'd never seen discussed in a public forum before," Kvasny said.

Kvasny and C. Frank Igwe, a recent IST Ph.D. recipient, analyzed 128 responses to the ABC News story posted from Aug. 24 to Aug. 26, 2006. They separated the comments into themes, including ineffective Black community leadership; the influence of prison and hip-hop cultures; religion; sexual taboos; and African Americans in the media. These categories provided a basis to analyze how ethnic identities are conveyed through technology.

The television show pointed to five reasons why AIDS is out of control in Black America, including, those in charge do not see the problem; the government fails to control street drugs and the large African American prison population; the skewed ratio of men to women in the African American community lead to multiple partners for men; a hidden African American homosexual population on the "down low;" and the failure of leadership in the Black community to make AIDS a priority.

"Online conversations provide an opportunity to examine how this community uses language to express their unique position as subjects in HIV/AIDS discourse," the researchers note in "An African-American Weblog Community's Reading of AIDS in Black America," published recently in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. "The relationships among identity, language and computer mediated communication are not straightforward."

Kvasny also noted the varying levels of community that exist within the blog, saying that while individual users are anonymous, they are all united by a common language and a desire to speak out about HIV/AIDS and other issues affecting the Black community. Blogs and message boards also allow people to voice their own opinions, rather than being spoken for by one or several people in the mass media.

"Communities like this give people a place to talk about things they couldn't talk about elsewhere," Kvasny said. "The affordances of technology allow people to become members of a virtual community while still remaining anonymous and being able to freely express their thoughts."

The researchers looked at two aspects of the online conversation. First are the factors that the blog members thought contributed to the spread of AIDS in the African American population. Included in this were members' presentation of opposing, alternative views to the television report and how they presented those views. Second, the researchers looked for indications of Black communication styles including signifying, emotional intensity and computer-mediated communication techniques like emoticons and turn taking.

An analysis of the blog suggested that three things -- ineffective leadership, Black cultural practices and individual behaviors -- were the risk factors for the Black community. Also, analysis of how ideas were expressed showed communication interaction used call-and-response conventions such as acknowledging prior comments by naming the speaker or co-signing the previous comments. The community of bloggers developed shorthand terms for AIDS that were used by the group and emotion, in the form of capitalized comments and other verbal scolding, appeared frequently.

The use of screen names and family terms showed communal support. The acts of advising, consoling and testifying through stories create a community of support through the discussion. The final style element of this African American blogging community involves movement, if only virtual. These include describing actions that would normally be acted out, describing dances, singing lyrics and laughter.

The researchers suggest that African Americans form virtual communities with ethnic identity through the use of language, noting "These self avowed identities suggest that ethnicity is an essential characteristic that finds expression in a public realm."

While realizing that the online community does not reach the entire African-American community, the researchers believe discussions online may impact the larger community as well through interactions with friends and relative who are not online and provide an alternative approach to community health education.

Kvasny said she hopes to continue this research and examine whether blogs are an effective medium for medical practitioners to distribute messages about HIV/AIDS prevention and education.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "African-American Blogs Offer Key Health Communications Tool." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002172148.htm>.
Penn State. (2008, October 2). African-American Blogs Offer Key Health Communications Tool. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002172148.htm
Penn State. "African-American Blogs Offer Key Health Communications Tool." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002172148.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) A study from University of Michigan researchers found that expectant fathers see a decrease in testosterone as the baby's birth draws near. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins