BATTLE IN THE BLOOD (BitB) GAMING APP
Institute of Clinical Epidemiology, National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
According to World Health Organization, Philippines has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world (WHO 2014). The Department of Health’s Epidemiology Bureau HIV/AIDS and Art Registry of the Philippines (EB-HARP), has recorded a total of 54,264 HIV cases from January 2014 until August 2019 (DOH-EB-HARP 2019). Also based on EB-HARP’s report, an average of 36 new HIV cases are diagnosed per day in 2019. This worsening HIV epidemic in the country is attributed mainly to:
(1) disinclination to be tested due to stigma and discrimination, and
(2) few returns for treatment after the two-week testing and diagnosis period. There is a need to strengthen the HIV diagnosis system and to create and promote interventions that will raise HIV awareness and reduce HIV cases in the country.
A group of researchers from the University of the Philippines Manila and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, led by Dr. Emmanuel S. Baja and Dr. Marlize Coleman, has taken advantage of the popularity of digital gaming among Filipinos as a new avenue to promote HIV testing and counselling in the Philippines. Through the funding support provided by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development’s Newton Agham Programme, the team developed a digital gaming application called, “Battle in the Blood” or BitB. This is a puzzle and turn-based combat mobile game designed to raise HIV awareness and encourage HIV testing among high-risk individuals. The app provides different animated stories of people living with HIV and links to information on HIV treatments available and nearest HIV testing centers.
The BitB app was formally launched last December 2017 and can be downloaded from Google Play Store and Apple Store for free. As of May 2019, the game has been downloaded by 4,391 users worldwide and 1,332 of which are users from the Philippines.
Dr. Emmanuel S. Baja
Institute of Clinical Epidemiology, National Institutes of Health,
University of the Philippines Manila
- Written by Julie Anne Balangat
- Created: 21 February 2020