By Charles Arvin E. Dantes/Alicia Angelica L. Villanueva
AFTER spending one year developing a mobile application that promotes awareness about HIV AIDS, the Institute of Clinical Epidemiology, National Institutes of Health and University of the Philippines Manila are now ready to introduce their #BitB or Battle in the Blood gaming app to address the issue to everyone.
As part of the World AIDs Day celebrated during Dec. 1, the mentioned affiliation, through a gaming app, aims to awake its user on how important it is to have the right knowledge about the human immunodeficiency virus acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV AIDS).
Dr. Emmanuel S. Baja, DOST “Balik” Scientist and Principal Investigator of the HIV Gaming, Engaging, and Testing (HIV GET Tested) Project, also believes that through this mobile game, it will be now easy for them to eliminate the belief that after being diagnosed with HIV, an individual cannot fulfill and have a normal life. Through this app, the player will be inspired to defeat HIV through proper counseling and testing
“HIV is not a death sentence anymore. It is just a chronic disease like diabetes, there is treatment available and people living with HIV (PLHIV) can still have a normal and happy life. This gaming app (#BitB) is a very powerful communication tool to address the stigma of HIV especially among young MSMs and TG women who are at a higher risk for HIV infection,” added Baja.
#BitB is essentially designed for ages 10-24 that are among the group of MSM or men having sex with men and transgender women, which most of the HIV-positive population belong. Baja also assures that as the players go along with each level, he or she will not just be informed and be aware about HIV AIDS but will also enjoy playing the #BitB.
The team—consisting of mainly Filipino game developers—spent one year to prepare the gaming application into a game ready for release. Four months were used for researching and HIV counselling to get facts that they can include in their project and another three months for developing a 40-page game design and concept.
After downloading the gaming app, the users can create their own character that includes the name, gender, physical features, and appearance of his or her avatar. Players will encounter 90 levels as they stand as a fighter against HIV and its army of co-infections. Each level, the player is required to defeat an HIV infection by connecting or matching same icons as his or her attack and defense power.
As they go along with the levels, the 8 stories of PLHIV they are helping will be featured showing how this PLHIV battles HIV. Each story has 10 levels to see its ending.
What makes it more interesting and informative is that the player can access information where the nearest HIV treatment center is.
Another great feature that gamers usually look for is a very smooth combat game that #BitB offers and that they don’t need to pay to have an extra life or any in-app purchases. Instead, they just need to answer some questions to move to another level to play.
The mobile app #BitB or Battle in the Blood is now available for free download on Google Playstore and Apple Store but was officially launched on Dec. 1, in Davao City, during the celebration of World AIDs Day.