Using Motion Comics to Educate Young People about HIV and STD’s

Using Motion Comics to Educate Young People about HIV and STD’s

Over half of all sexually transmitted infections occur among young people 15 – 24 years of age. To educate young adults about the risks of HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases and how to prevent these, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pilot-tested the use of very popular form of mainstream entertainment – the motion comic – to reach this population through animation. Audience testing showed significant increases in knowledge and other benefits. This innovation represents a novel effort by a public health agency to use motion comics to engage and educate young people about the risks of HIV and STDs through entertainment and animation.

Young people in the United States continue to be seriously affected by HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, nearly half of new STD diagnoses were among people 15-24 years, and 26% of all new HIV infections occurred among young persons 13- 24 years of age.  Lack of knowledge, low levels of health literacy, attitudes and incorrect beliefs all contribute to the high rates of STDS and HIV among youth.   Young people today are connected to technology and digital media in every aspect of their lives.  In order to capture their attention and engage them in a meaningful way, we created an HIV/STD focused motion comic that educates young people about sexual and reproductive health.

Comics are now a very popular form of mainstream entertainment. Advances in comic technology have led to the creation of “motion comics”, i.e. comics that combine animation, sound effects, voice-overs, and a musical score.  For this project, the team worked with young people to develop a motion comic that would resonate with, educate, and entertain them.  Our testing showed that among viewers, the motion comic decreased HIV stigma and increased intentions to engage in HIV/STD protective behaviors (e.g. condom use, abstinence) and HIV/STD knowledge.  Based on these results, the team believes that this entertainment education tool has the potential to reach a diverse population of youth in a wide range of venues (schools, at home, clinics, and community-based organizations) to decrease their risks of HIV/STDs and their overall sexual health.

Leigh Willis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Rachel Kachur, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Ted Castellanos, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Pilgrim Spikes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Zaneta Gaul, ICF International 
Ashley Gamayo, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health
Marcus Durham, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Madeline Sutton, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Hadiza Buge, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Sandra Jones, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mark Stancil, Terminus Media
Tony Cade, Terminus Media
Joe Phillips, Terminus Media
John McGuire, Terminus Media
Lamont Wayne, Terminus Media
Robert Jeffrey, Terminus Media
Peter Mitchell, Terminus Media
William Rich, Terminus Media


CDC HIV Among Youth Page


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