Rutgers College of Nursing Professor premieres video to reduce HIV risk

April 24, 2006

NEWARK, N.J. - Rutgers College of Nursing faculty member, Rachel Jones, will premiere her video vignettes for hand-held computers aimed at reducing young women's HIV sexual risk behavior before community members, AIDS experts and caregivers at John Cotton Dana Library on the Newark campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey April 25.

The video vignettes will be shown in the library's Dana Room on the fourth floor at 185 University Ave. The videos are part of a study funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, as well as the Rutgers Busch Biomedical Research grant. The study examines the effectiveness of computerized tailored video health promotion messages as an approach to reduce HIV risk behavior.

The urban soap opera type vignettes are based on information gathered and analyzed from focus groups with women in public housing developments and other locations in Newark and Jersey City said Jones, assistant professor at Rutgers College of Nursing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heterosexual transmission accounts for 79 percent of HIV infection in women. Although African-American and Latina women together represent about 25 percent of all women in the United States, they account for 83 percent of AIDS diagnosis reported in 2003.

"HIV/AIDS among women is one of the most pressing public health problems in Newark, Jersey City and the surrounding communities," Jones said. "This is a preventable disease and we want to find out if these video vignettes, with their stories and characters, will change their views or attitudes about unprotected sex."

The stories were scripted and performed by students and graduates of The Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Rutgers-Newark. Other actors were selected from a large casting call. The HIV risk reduction message, based on the science of HIV risk and women's wisdom shared in the focus groups, is communicated as each actor revisits high risk scenes and this time acts to reduce HIV risk.

"We will have a discussion afterwards and we will have the participants fill out a form for their suggested changes to the video vignettes," said Jones. "Together with filmmaker, Alan Roth, the necessary edits will be based on the feedback."

Jones plans to pilot test the videos on hand-held computers with women, between 18 and 29 years old, in Newark and Jersey City in May. In the final phase of the research, an interactive computerized decision support system will be built to deliver the video vignettes as tailored feedback to women who will take a computer-based interview on hand-held, tablet or desk top computers.

The feedback is tailored to the participant's pattern of risk behaviors, providing culturally relevant video vignettes that deliver health promotion messages to promote safer sexual practices. This research will test whether HIV sexual reduction messages, based on women's stories of risk, relationships and acting with power, can promote behavior change, according to Jones.
From its headquarters at Rutgers Newark, Rutgers College of Nursing offers a broad range of academic programs on all three Rutgers campuses. The college offers a master's program with unique practitioner specialties and the first to offer a doctoral (Ph.D) nursing degree in New Jersey.

Rutgers University

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