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Comic Books in Motion: The CDC's New HIV Awareness Campaign

By Warren Tong

September 13, 2011

In a new initiative to combat HIV, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are turning to comic books. But they won't be creating traditional print comic books as many of us know them. The CDC is much more interested in using the blossoming medium of digital motion comics, which brings traditional comic book pages to a video screen and combines them with voice-overs, sound effects and music.

The HIV awareness campaign will be aimed at young people ages 15 to 24. The CDC has contracted the help of Terminus Media, an Atlanta-based comics and animation studio, to bring the campaign to life at a cost of approximately $145,000.

Politico reported:

The agency specifically requested the motion comics for the HIV campaign be designed for viewing on just about any device that plugs into a broadband network, from smartphones and laptops to video game consoles and tablets.

The CDC described the digital comics as "a low-cost, revisable, scalable, innovative, technology-based health communication intervention."

"If the proposed intervention is found to be successful, motion comics may be used by CDC to address other public health problems," the agency wrote.

The CDC contract requires delivery of a 66-page hard copy comic that will be translated into three, seven-minute motion comics with original characters.

Terminus Media prides itself on creating wild, weapon-wielding heroes and villains, so if this novel approach catches on, we may have a very strong new weapon to slash HIV rates and neutralize stigma -- figuratively, that is.

Here's a sample digital motion comic from Terminus Media:

Warren Tong is the research editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.


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