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Interactive Taboo: Tackling HIV/AIDS with Games

Interactive Taboo: Tackling HIV/AIDS with Games

Despite the somewhat taboo history of HIV/AIDS, there is no doubt that the disease is continuing to be a problem in the United States and around the world. As a matter of fact, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that Americans’ sense of urgency about HIV/AIDS has decreased significantly, as well as thoughts and concerns about personal protection.

This is no good folks. Especially for our young people who are continually being exposed to sexually explicit material on and offline. It is vital that we continue to raise the bar on how we educate them on making intelligent decisions about their lifestyles that will not only protect them from HIV/AIDS but will encourage them to evaluate other choices. In the health gaming world, interactivity is key and today I was pleased to come across news of a game in the works that addresses HIV/AIDS among teens.

The reality is, there are young people already infected with HIV but that doesn’t mean the education stops for them – in fact, it’s all the more important. Last week, news surfaced about +CLICK, an interactive game aimed at HIV positive teenagers to help them make smart decisions and help manage their condition.

+CLICK Select Detect Protect Screenshot

The game was created from a research study from the folks over at the University of Texas School of Public Health. The study participants were 32 young people; mean age was 17.8; 62.5 percent were females; 68.8 percent were black; 28.1 percent were Hispanic; 56.2 percent acquired HIV perinatally; 43.8 percent were infected through behavior; and 68.8 percent were sexually experienced.

“We wanted to create +CLICK so that we could help educate youth on the importance of making proper, healthy decisions to protect their relationships and themselves as well as help to reduce transmission of [HIV],” said Christine Markham, PhD, lead investigator and an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Texas School of Public Health.

+CLICK is in the final stages of development and according to the article, should be available to the public in about 6 months. I’m pretty excited about this namely because I haven’t heard of anything that could have the potential of positive impact for youth with HIV. This is quite an innovative way to begin tackling a need that has been around for a while.  The results of the pilot study are available in the May 2009 edition of AIDS Care.

+CLICK Virtual World Screenshot

Another interesting game, that you can check out right now, was developed by UNICEF and their Voices of Youth program. What Would You Do? is a basic text/Flash based online game that allows young people to involve themselves in a scenario that most likely would happen as they interact with their peers. The game focuses on prevention messages and giving the young person the ability to think about the consequences of social activities as it applies to HIV/AIDS.

Here at healthGAMERS we are all about the serious and important impact that games can and will have on our society’s health. Stay tuned as we await the launch of +CLICK – you know we will be covering it!

For more information on how the Web is being used to fight against HIV/AIDS, do yourself a favor and check out the blog for great case studies and initiatives.


  1. i wonder when are we going to have the cure for HIV/AIDS ? we are living on an age with very high technology but still we have not found a cure for this disease.

  2. HIV / AIDS is one hell of a scary disease. we still do not have a cure nor a vaccine for it, so always practice safe sex.

  3. HIV/AIDS is still rampant today and there is no cure for it. we need to practive safe sex all the time because an ounce of prevention is still better than a pound of cure.,,

  4. Thanks everyone for your comments! Yes we definitely need to continually looking for better treatment but like many of you already mentioned – safe sex is at the top of the list regarding prevention.

    We’re hoping that interactive media such as this game can help educate each generation on the importance of making smart decisions.

  5. HIV is a disease that is still incurable today. We should always practice safe sex and also educate our people how to avoid the spread of this disease.

  6. jenny Says:

    Does anyone know whether the CLICK game is now available to the public? If so, do you know where I can access a copy.

    Also, are there any other HIV/AIDS education games you could recommend?


  7. @jenny – Great questions! It is my understanding that the CLICK game is part of a larger longitudinal study that is still in progress (I believe it is a 10 year study). The game will probably not be made available until after all findings have been published. It’s unfortunate that many games involved in research studies never actually make it to the public, but perhaps this will be an exception. I suggest contacting Dr. Ross Shegog at the Univ of Texas Health Science Center who led game production.

    As far as other HIV games, please visit our health games page, scroll towards the bottom and look under under Healthy Relationships / HIV: You will find several links to games there like Pamoja Mtaani and Adventures in Sex City that might suit your needs.

  8. Hi, my sister recommended this blog. I like what I see so far, but I will have to check back a few more times before I put it in my daily bloglist.


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