HIV/AIDS Prevention: Computer Program Teaches Drug Users About HIV
July 29, 2004
Injection drug users (IDUs) who received HIV/AIDS education and prevention information via a computer program retained more knowledge about the disease than those who attended traditional counseling, according to a new study. And three months after the study, participants in the computer program scored higher on HIV/AIDS knowledge tests.
Researchers Lisa Marsch, Ph.D., and Warren Bickel, Ph.D., designed the interactive computer intervention to boost IDUs' knowledge about HIV/AIDS. The program featured both multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank quizzes that adjusted speed depending on how quickly and accurately a person responded to each question. The computer-based intervention was tested against regular counseling with 30 IDUs who had entered a clinic for buprenorphine therapy -- a treatment used to break heroin and other opioid addictions.
Both computer-based and counselor-based study participants reported less HIV risk behavior after participating in the study, but those in the computer program expressed more interest in their three to five training sessions than those who went to two counseling sessions and were shown an educational video. "The highly interactive learning process required by the computer-based intervention likely contributed to how interesting participants perceived it to be," said Marsch.
The computer users also expressed interest in wanting to continue their HIV education after completion of the study, with 80 percent asking for follow-up materials versus 40 percent of the counseling group.
The authors noted it was unclear whether the intervention, the buprenorphine, or a combination of the two helped lower risky behaviors among the study participants. But the results are consistent with other studies demonstrating that computers are effective tools for changing health behavior. The full study, "Efficacy of Computer-Based HIV/AIDS Education for Injection Drug Users," was published in the American Journal of Health Behavior (2004;28(4):316-327).
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.