According to the CDC, young adults accounted for 22% of new HIV diagnoses in 2015.
A video game that was conceptualized by Yale researchers hopes to help lower the incidences of young adults who contract sexually transmitted diseases, especially among those who are more at risk.
The video game takes teens through a series of simulated realities that relate back to their own lived experiences. The study focused on 300 students between the ages of 11 and 14, of the 300 some played what researchers called the “intervention video game,” while others played unrelated games.
“It was proof of concept,” explains Lynn Fiellin, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and in the Child Study Center, according to ScienceDaily. “To our knowledge, never before has a videogame intervention been developed with such extensive input from its target audience, and tested through rigorous scientific methods over a long stretch of time, demonstrating that kids will engage in a game with serious content and learn things that impact the way they think and potentially what they do.”
The research study was specifically targeted to minority youth who could potentially be more at-risk due to the lack of information on topics like STDs.
The use of the video game — twice a week for six weeks, over 75 minutes — resulted in a noteworthy change in how much information was retained by the teens. According to the study, the teens’ overall thoughts on when to start having sex did not change, but their knowledge of pregnancy and STD risks did.
According to the CDC, of the 30% of high school students surveyed in 2015, 43% had not used a condom and 14% were not on any form of birth control. The reality of how less likely teens are to take preventative steps in their sex lives is why lead researchers were heartened by the results.
“We saw significant and sustained positive changes in terms of attitudes about sexual health and sexual health knowledge,” explain Lynn Fiellin, M.D., according to ScienceDaily.