Kimberly Hieftje awarded NIH grant for HIV prevention videogame

Dr. Kimberly Hieftje of Yale School of Medicine has been awarded $460,000 by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to support her research on “A Digital Intervention for HIV Prevention in Black Adolescent Girls.”

The two-year grant will expand Hieftje’s work, involving a multiplayer videogame designed to raise awareness and stimulate discussion about condoms, HIV/STI testing, and sexual risk-taking behaviors. Initially funded by the Women’s Health Research at Yale, the videogame’s prototype, a card game titled One Night Stan, was an effective tool for young black women; findings suggested that playing the game can lead to increased self-efficacy.

One Night Stan’s effectiveness is considered promising, as it seeks to grow and strengthen protective thought patterns and behavior associated with dating and sexual activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of the 50,000 individuals infected with HIV each year, one out of every four is between 13 and 24 years old. In the United States, African American adolescent girls, ages 13-19 years, are disproportionately affected by HIV/STIs. While they represent 15% of the U.S. female adolescent population, they account for 64% of HIV diagnoses in this age group.

Hieftje is the deputy director of the Yale Center for Health and Learning Games and the play2PREVENT Lab, which educates youth through behavior change videogames. Her research focuses on videogame interventions for tobacco use, vaping, sexual health, HIV/STI prevention, bystander intervention, and adolescent alcohol use. She is also currently a K12 scholar at the Yale Center for Implementation Science.

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