Video Games Aim To Reduce Risky Behavior Among Teens, Young Adults

Women’s health is the next frontier for a team of medical researchers at Yale who believe video games can be powerful tools in the fight against HIV and other serious diseases. For the last several years, Yale’s Play2Prevent lab has been a hub of collaboration between doctors and computer programmers testing the capacity of games to educate users and, perhaps, even change risky behavior. Their work is part of a fast-growing movement in public health to better understand how virtual gaming environments can improve players’ lives in the real world. The lab’s latest project aims to reduce HIV infections among young African American women.  Using a grant from the Women’s Health Research at Yale Pilot Program, the team will spend this year working with groups of black teens and 20-somethings to design a game that’s relevant, entertaining and, hopefully, a model for future public health projects. “This is a really new field,” said Kimberly Hieftje, who holds a PhD in health behavior and is a member of the Play2Prevent team.