El Centro de Educación de Trabajadores: Building on innovative initiatives.

The NLM ACIO funded program at El Centro de Educación de Trabajadores in New York City is an exciting new collaboration building on previous innovative initiatives in an effort to meet the HIV/AIDS education needs of Spanish speaking communities.

The ACIOP initiative at El Centro — which is still finalizing its formal title and branding — is based in part on the success of the HIV/STI Online Teaching Tool or HOTT, also known as Heads or Tails. HOTT was a four-year New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene funded HIV prevention and linkages to care tool for YMSM of color in New York City. The content features interactive graphic novels in which social and sexual decisions are made for characters and subsequent consequences are viewed in clinical encounters with real physicians at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Additional episodes follow the characters as they deal with HIV and STI diagnoses and treatment, providing health education in an engaging, highly visual and narrative context. All website content ends with an “Act page” that allows users to obtain HIV/STI information, request counseling and testing, and/or initiate other linkages to primary care.

HOTT was a unique collaboration between community members and experts in public health, the arts, and gaming. All content was developed in partnership with HIV+ and at-risk young men of color who conceived the stories, contributed to script writing, and provided audio voice-over talent for all characters. In this way, the young men moved beyond being simply research subjects or “the target audience” and were empowered to serve as leaders, decision makers, intervention developers, and as the figurative and literal voices of the project. HOTT evaluation surveys administered immediately following the module found that respondents considered the site very educational and that it motivated them to get HIV testing and to use condoms more.

Heads or Tails also inspired White House Precision Medicine Champion Dr. Elizabeth Cohn, who recognized the valuable role that engaging, animated vignettes could play in helping convey important information to communities that have traditionally been underrepresented in genomic research. Under Dr. Cohn’s direction, new educational modules have been developed to address privacy, financial, and other concerns individuals may have about precision medicine and to link them to additional federal resources.

All of these projects combine art, voice-overs, music, and sound effects via an innovative use of the e-learning content development software Articulate Storyline, which allows for extensive interactive elements that are data traceable and compatible with mobile and desktop browsers. The software was chosen by Project Director Dr. Christel Hyden both for its flexibility and for the role it can play in having content easily replicated or adapted by other community based organizations.

To date, Dr. Rafael Perez-Figueroa, Dr. Anthony Santella, and MPH candidate Angelika Guttierez have facilitated Spanish language groups at El Centro, Pride for Youth and Circulo de la Hispanidad. The ACIOP team will continue to convene community feedback groups to discuss, review, and test content through the winter and spring, and final content is expected to be online by early summer 2017. For more information, contact Project Director Christel Hyden at christel@chyden.com.

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