XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Lessons of 18 months of experience with the work of preventing HIV/AIDS in a virtual world

P.Z. Malavolta, L.O. Abreu, R. Ramolo, S.A. Cardeal, M.C. Abbate

STD / AIDS Program, Health Department of São Paulo City, São Paulo, Brazil

Issues: Experiences with a new form of communication between people in a virtual environment to prevention of AIDS. The hype cycle of the technologies and obsolescence.
Description: In December 2007 we created a virtual headquarters of STD/AIDS Program, Health Department of São Paulo City in Second Life (SL), as part of
activities for the World Aids Day. Why work in SL? At the time was the largest 3D virtual community in Brazil, free to visitors and used to express sexual desire. For 18 months we conducted activities such as parties (3), display of posters presented at scientific meetings (7), films (8), discussions and lectures (7), answer questions on-line (daily). All campaigns and activities undertaken in "real life" have also been replicated in SL. Moreover, 5 campaigns were created exclusively for SL, one of them to encourage HIV testing. In these times we received 22 thousand visitors. However, the number of visits began to wane in early 2009, as the use of SL by Brazilians in general. In May 2009 we decided to terminate the Project.
Lessons learned: Discussions and parties attract more people by allowing a live interaction and direct. Reputation is important in Second Life and is associated with a drawn look of your character rather than the way you talk. New technologies can become Hype for a while and then no longer be used. The SL the hype cycle lasted just over 2 years. Conduct prevention of HIV with these new technologies allows people to raise awareness, but work with only one of them is too risky.
Next steps: There are still many opportunities to explore the virtual worlds and 3D environments. The ability to reinvent itself out either through character (avatar) makes it easier for people to talk about fears and doubts.

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