Medical Messages … 2.0

One of the recent things I am getting involved in is a really interesting project on how online media can be used to deliver health related messages, a kind of medical message 2.0 if you so want.
The research we do is focusing on HIV/AIDS which has a couple of special points: On the one side, it is fairly easy to prevent transmission, but once transmitted it is a fairly complex condition to treat and understand.
Obviously therefore, the “easy” prevention messages are also rather easy to get across using online games (or other interactive media). Not sure if this is a particularly good example, but this strategy is for example used by UNICEF in their online dating game.
Yet, when it comes to supporting people living with HIV/AIDS, somehow far to many websites seem to assume that people will consume and understand pretty advanced knowledge about their condition at record speed. This can range from seriously complex videos on YouTube explaining resistance using phrases like “the high error rate of reverse transcriptase” or “primary mutations decrease the fitness of the mutant virus” to much more accessible, though still pretty advanced material, for example the POZcasts or in Lessons.And, of course we are not even talking about reliability of information out there (I’m consciously not linking to any examples of the type “HIV is the biggest myth” etc).
Thinking that someone who has recently been diagnosed (with all the turmoil that person is inevitably be going through) can readily understand and comprehend much of the advanced (and plentiful) material seems pretty remote to me. For example: Take a look at the video above, it explains how HIV replicates. Now think you are in psychological turmoil after being diagnosed – would you understand? How would you react?
In fact, it seems a bit like bombarding a first year student with a PhD thesis, and expecting her/him to write a critique of it. Yet, little is done to explain what is going on at this crucial early stage – and then build on such a foundation a more comprehensive education programme from fairly easy to comprehend messages to the more complex ones.

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