In 2016-2017, Spanish language focus groups informed the final look, feel and content of animated, Spanish language educational episodes. Titled, “Amigos y Amantes” (“Friends and Lovers”), the stories briefly show the risk-taking and decision-making choices of three young people, and the related concerns of Maria, the mother, and aunt of two characters. Each episode has a companion information sheet providing additional information about the episode’s topic, and the website also features a curated list of Spanish language resources to provide links to care and services. Details on the episode development and content are available in the four-part series of posts written for the ACIOP blog: Part 1, creating the characters; Part 2, character development; Part 3, story development; and Part 4, final episodes.
As we developed and disseminated the project, focus group feedback and consultation with experts in the field indicated that while the community saw the need for an English language version of the Spanish content for bilingual audiences, it would not be adequate to simply translate the current scripts into English. It’s critical to remain sensitive to language and cultural considerations when discussing sexuality and risk, and it soon became clear that additional bilingual focus groups should be held to review content before English adaptations are made.
Since the current episodes end with the main characters agreeing together to go to a local clinic to get tested, we also wanted to add a final scene that shows those clinical encounters. As such, the goal of the 2017-2018 Amigos Y Amantes project is to continue and expand this work to create new content, develop an English language mirror site, and then conduct and evaluate an online marketing campaign for all materials to identify best practices for reaching Spanish speaking and bilingual English/Spanish communities via social media.
In the first quarter of our project, we conducted three additional focus groups with bilingual English-Spanish language speakers. We first had participants review existing content and talk about presenting those stories for a bilingual audience, including the incorporation of “Spanglish” and the need to remain clear and relevant across different Spanish speaking cultures.
We then brainstormed and evaluated ideas for the new episode and the feedback was discussed at several meetings of the creative team, which includes our artist and scriptwriter and several experts in public health and health education. Key points to be incorporated into our new episode include:
- Issues of insurance, particularly for young people who are on their parents’ coverage. This will be addressed through our character Isabel, who has made previous references to being a college student and so could realistically still be on her parents’ insurance. Consumers also wanted reiteration of the availability of free services, for underinsured, uninsured, and undocumented consumers.
- The need to present a wide range of clinical encounters, to show consumers what to expect when they visit a clinic. This will be incorporated into the story by showing the different characters experiencing different phases of the process. Isabel will get PrEP/PEP counseling, which also addresses the desire the audience had for content that isn’t exclusively focused on YMSM. In other scenes, Gabriel will get three-site STI testing; and Mateo will get HIV counseling and testing.
- A suggestion that we show “real world” consequences, reactions, and referrals. For example, an STI diagnosis that isn’t “overdramatic” because STIs can be quite common and can be treated, while also emphasizing the fact that most STIs are asymptomatic, and stressing the need for partner notification.
- Likewise, actionable information about HIV treatment, undetectable status, and partner notification. Mateo will receive a positive HIV diagnosis and be counseled about the need begin and adhere to medication.
While this 6th episode will conclude the new story development funded during this NLM contract year. However, through funding from a Ryan White Part D supplement, we will continue all three characters’ stories in additional brief vignettes that will explore the challenges of and benefits of being linked to care and staying healthy. All new English and Spanish language content are expected to be released in the spring and summer of 2018.
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