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Internet Game Raises HIV/AIDS Awareness

Armen Hareyan's picture

The New York Times on Monday examined an Internetgame, called Pos or Not, that aims to increase HIV/AIDS education andawareness. The Web site, posornot.com, shows photographs and shortbiographies of men and women ages 21 to 30, asking visitors to determine ifeach is HIV-positive or negative. It was launched in late April and was playedabout 5.1 million times by 400,000 people during its first three weeks.According to the Times, the "message is that you can't judgesomeone's virus status by looks, occupation or taste in music" (Stelter, New York Times, 5/19).

The Web site was launched by mtvU, MTV's college network, and the Kaiser Family Foundation, in partnership with POZ Magazine. During the game, HIV-positiveparticipants share when they first learned their HIV status, and HIV-negativeparticipants talk about how they have been affected by the disease. The gamealso provides information about HIV prevention, as well as local HIV andsexually transmitted infection resources from CDC (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/1).

"We feel it's another kind of activist tool to get out the word about HIVprotection," Stephen Friedman, general manager of mtvU, said. Celebrities,such as musician Wycleaf Jean and actress Rosario Dawson, have made promotionsfor the game, which also is featured across MTV's networks. "Looking atthe statistics that one in four people who are HIV-positive in the U.S. don't knowit, it's pretty staggering," Friedman said, adding, "We hope that somethinglike this will get under their skin. If it makes some people uncomfortable,that's not necessarily a bad thing" (New York Times, 5/19).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.