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What is text messaging?
Text messaging, or texting, is a way to send information to and from cellular and smart phone devices. Texting is a common way that people are using mobile technology in public health. Messages can be sent as text (Short Message Service or SMS), pictures, video, or audio (Multimedia Messaging Service or MMS). A text message can be sent to individual or multiple mobile phones and devices.
Who is using text messaging?
- Texting by adults has increased. In Fall 2009, 65% of adults were sending and receiving texts and in Spring 2011 that number increased to 73% ;
- Ninety-seven percent of 18-24 year olds text, averaging almost 110 texts per day.1
- African American and Hispanic send more text messages, on average, than whites, with a median of ten texts a day for African Americans and Hispanics, and five texts a day for whites.2
How can I use text messaging in response to HIV?
- Locate local HIV testing centers.
- Respond to questions about HIV.
- Remind patients of medical appointments by sending text reminders.
- Help patients adhere to their medication schedules by sending text reminders.
- Encourage people to get tested for HIV through peer networks.
- Raise money through a mobile giving/text-to-give campaign.
What are some examples from the field?
- Get Yourself Tested (GYT) helps people locate nearby STI testing centers
- SexInfo provides sexual health information for youth in San Francisco
- REALtalk provides information to youth in Washington DC about where to access free HIV/STI testing and free condoms
Where can I learn more?
- United Nations Foundation’s “Wireless Technology for Social Change”
- WikiHow’s “How to Send a Text Message”
1 Pew Internet & American Life Project, “How Americans Use Text Messaging,” http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/09/19/how-americans-use-text-messaging/ Accessed on 6/6/13.
2 Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Adults, Cell Phones and Texting,” http://www.pewresearch.org/pubs/1716/adults-cell-phones-text-messages Accessed on 6/6/13.
Last revised: 07/01/2013