While much research on new communication technologies has warned that disadvantaged groups will make less use of empowering information, doing anything about it will require distinguishing between explanations. Lack of access is largely an economic and policy issue, while explanations based on lack of skills, motivation or information-oriented media habits locate much of the problem with individuals. The research reported here provided access to a technology-based system, and indicates that the other barriers can be overcome. An interactive computer system (CHESS - Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System) was placed in homes of HIV-infected people, and use was monitored by the computer. While the system was used heavily over several months, differences between demographic subgroups were small, and in most cases the system was used more by groups ordinarily expected to use these technologies less. Thus, while economic barriers to access certainly exist, a case for subsidizing access to overcome those barriers can be made.
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