Yale's New Card Game Empowers Young Women to Avoid HIV Risks

Jul 8, 2015

Yale School of Medicine's play2Prevent video game lab has developed a card game that helps young black women make the right choices when it comes to reducing the risk of HIV infection.

"One Night Stan" is a humorous, role-playing card game where players navigate the sometimes difficult world of dating. As the players learn more about potential sex partners,they are challenged to make responsible choices -- things like insisting on condom use, and saying no to sex in risky situations.

Kim Hieftje, deputy director of the play2Prevent lab, said these topics are often hard for people to discuss face-to-face. "So, if you make a game about these difficult topics to talk about, then the conversation kind of just opens," Hieftje said.

The game is designed for black women, ages 18 to 24, a group that doesn't engage in more risky behavior than other groups. But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this demographic acquires HIV and sexually-transmitted infections at a higher rate than almost all other demographic groups.

The content and situations presented in the card game were developed with the help of focus groups consisting of young black women from New Haven and Bridgeport.

Play2Prevent is encouraged by a pilot study they conducted with 21 women who played "One Night Stan." "They saw themselves playing this not as an intervention, but as a fun card game, which is what we were trying to do," said Hieftje. "Out of the 21 women, eleven were sexually active, and five of them talked to their partners about getting tested for HIV and STIs, and four of them actually got tested."

Yale's play2Prevent lab plans to eventually distribute the game to community groups and in dorm rooms, and ultimately create a multi-player video game version of "One Night Stan" with more dateable characters and situations.