Monday, February 08, 2010

Feds to Train Kids in Cyberspace on HIV Avoidance

[A] division of the National Institutes of Health, is giving . . . the Yale School of Medicine, $3.9 million over five years to develop a video game to teach “sex, drug and alcohol negotiation and refusal skills" to children 9-14 years of age.

-- From "U.S. Gives Yale Researcher $3.9-Million in Tax Dollars to Develop ‘Avatar’ Sex-Ed Video Game for Kids" by Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief 2/5/10

The game will feature “virtual characters or avatars” that are guided by the children playing the game to make decisions about whether to engage in behaviors that put them at risk of being infected with HIV.

The game’s effectiveness in training children to avoid HIV-transmitting behaviors will be tested by having children as young as 9 play the game two days a week for a month—either after school or on weekends—at a New Haven, Conn., community center.

After they have played the game for four weeks, the children in the study will be periodically surveyed to see if they are refraining from activity—including “vaginal or anal intercourse”—that puts them at risk of HIV infection.

“Research demonstrates that adolescents who acquire new knowledge, skills and attitudes in a video game, and practice these skills in the game, are more likely to behave similarly in real life,” says the abstract. “Therefore, the goal of this application is to adapt existing software to develop and refine an interactive video game designed to decrease HIV risk by teaching minority adolescents sex, drug and alcohol negotiation and refusal skills.”

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.