MASTER'S RESEARCH PROJECT:
ANIMATION AS AN INFORMING AND ENCOURAGING TOOL FOR THE USAGE OF HIV SELF-TESTS IN CANADA
Sean Rourke, PhD, FCAHS
Shelley Wall, AOCAD, MScBMC, PhD, CMI, FAMI
Derek Ng, BSc, MScBMC, PhD
2D/3D animation, Autodesk Maya, MNPRX, Adobe After Effects
This project was funded by the CIHR and was a Vesalius Trust Research Grant recipient
Despite many advancements in treatment, HIV is still a public health crisis in Canada. A major factor contributing to the HIV epidemic is inadequate rates of testing. It is estimated that 13-27% of people living with HIV in Canada are undiagnosed. Less testing results in later diagnoses, worse health outcomes, and the inadvertent spread of HIV. For the first time, an HIV self-test will be available to people living in Canada. HIV self-tests increase rates of testing by vastly reducing the barriers associated with traditional point-of-care testing such as limited access to care and distressing clinic experiences. However, some barriers to HIV testing remain. Animation can be utilized to tackle some of these barriers, notably psychological information avoidance. Functioning as an educational public health tool, this animation will promote the benefits of HIV self-tests, such as convenience, confidentiality, and empowerment, while decreasing the viewer’s results-related anxiety, thus encouraging its use. The success of self-tests, and this animation, could directly improve the health of individuals living with HIV and could help Canada reach its 90-90-90 goal, which is having of “90% of all people living with HIV know their status, 90% of those diagnosed receive antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of those on treatment achieve viral suppression”. In order to aid in this momentous goal, this animation should appeal to a wide audience. Informed by social media and public health campaign tactics, this animation will make learning about HIV self-tests engaging for people across Canada.
POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO BIOCOMMUNICATIONS
Repeatedly, it has been shown that animation is an effective tool for informing and educating an audience about complex biomedical concepts. This animation will utilize what is known about education and expand on lesser known applications of biocommunication animation. While cautiously avoiding coercion, this animation aims to encourage those with information avoidance to test for HIV. This animation and its documentation, can help inform future biocommunicators about how to decrease information avoidance in the context of diagnostic tests while informing and educating the viewer. Social media is rapidly changing the way we create and consume health information. It was found that social media offers many benefits when used to communicate about HIV. This project will apply social media and public health campaign strategies found to be successful in the dissemination of health information, such as being fast paced and relatable. Social media also comes with limitations. Understanding the limitations (aspect ratios, duration, user demographic etc.) plays a large role in the design process. This animation, and its documentation, will be helpful in informing future biocommunication projects that would benefit from social media dissemination.