Using Motion Comics to Education Young People about HIV and STD Prevention

In the U.S., young people (ages 15-24 years) are significantly affected by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Storytelling through comic books has shown to be a useful method for HIV and STD education and prevention. The increasing popularity of comic related media and advances in computerized graphics have created new ways of using comics to reach and help youth adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support overall health and well-being—including behaviors that can reduce their risk for HIV and STDs.

HHS Innovates Finalist Research Brief - September 2014

Comics, technology, and health communication to educate youth about HIV/STD

Purpose: This brief provides highlights of communication outcome evaluation research with intended audiences, and is currently under review to be published in the Journal of Health Communication.


We recruited young men and women 15-24 years of age, of diverse race and ethnicity, in 2012 to review the motion comic. We conducted 15 focus groups (n=144) coupled with surveys, and analyzed quantitative and qualitative data.


Participants expressed high levels of satisfaction with the story's elements, an average of 74% of participants responded favorably to story elements: the dialogue, plots, story settings, tone of humor and drama, and realism portrayed in the storyline.

Engagement with story. Regarding the story, 89% found the story interesting, 51% related to the characters, and 78% indicated interest in seeing additional episodes. Respondents displayed interest in seeing the story continue, typified by the statement made by one respondent: "You have got to tell us what happens next....It was wrong of you to not tell us!" Most participants requested to be notified of new episodes so they could find out what happens.

Acceptability. Eighty-five percent of participants responded that a motion comic was a good method of reaching young people like themselves, 75% indicated their friends would be at least somewhat interested in watching the series, and 73% indicated they would share or recommend the motion comic to their friends.

Outcome Measures. Comparison of the pre- and post-viewing metrics of key indicators revealed the intervention was associated with a statistically significant decrease in HIV stigma (p<0.001). The intervention was not associated with statistically significant changes in condom attitudes and knowledge or attitudes toward HIV testing. However, the intervention was also associated with statistically significant increases in the participants' intentions to engage in HIV/STD protective behaviors (e.g. condom use, abstinence) (p=0.002) and HIV knowledge (p=0.002).

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