Manila: A mobile phone app developed by Filipino and foreign scientists aim to raise awareness on the risks of acquiring HIV/Aids by drawing them into an engaging game.
‘Battle of the Blood’ makes knowledge about the risks of acquiring HIV/Aids more palatable to the younger generation and tries to remove the stigma that goes along with the condition, developers from the University of the Philippines-Manila and UK experts said.
Dr. Emmanuel S. Baja, a Filipino Research Associate Professor, said the app had been launched online as early as December 1, 2017, but promotion on mobile phone application is continuing to cover more locations in the country.
December 1 is recognised as World Aids Day.
According to Baja, the player joins the game by registering through the downloadable app and informing where he or she is located.
A number of questions would be posed to the player, such as demographic information, knowledge and attitude towards HIV/Aids among others. This data is kept secure and confidential.
But while drawing the player into an engaging game, it also provides them with information on where they can have themselves tested for HIV.
“The app aims to break the stigma about HIV, as a lot of people are careful of knowing their status,” Baja said.
Decades since the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) was discovered in the early 1980s, the public’s knowledge about the condition is still very limited. HIV causes the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (Aids).
Charlotte Hemingway, material developer of Engaging Tools for Communication in Health (ETCH) in an earlier interview, said one of the goals of the app is to change public attitude about HIV/Aids particularly among adolescent (aged 10-19) and young adults (aged 20—24).
Baja said most who suspect that they have the virus are fearful of having themselves tested because of the stigma of having such condition carries.
He said the common perception is that the condition is “untreatable.” However, he adds, advances in medicine makes it possible to treat the illness, and more importantly medication is provided for free by the government.
“The game gives hope to everyone, saying that it’s really OK if you’re positive or reactive to the virus. Life goes on,” Baja said.
According to the UN Agency on Aids/HIV or UNAids the Philippines is among the countries in Asia and the Pacific with the fastest growing HIV transmission.
Worldwide, HIV testing and treatment efforts are reaching more people living with HIV. “In 2017, three quarters of people living with HIV (75 per cent) knew their HIV status, compared to just two thirds (67 per cent) in 2015, and 21.7 million people living with HIV (59 per cent) had access to antiretroviral therapy, up from 17.2 million in 2015.
The same report, however, said that 9.4 million people living with HIV do not know they are living with the virus and urgently need to be linked to HIV testing and treatment services.