AIDS ONLINE INTERNATIONAL (AOI): AN INTERNATIONALLY SYNCHRONIZED ONLINE COLLEGE-CREDIT COURSE ON HIV/AIDS EDUCATION, PREVENTION, AND BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH - A PILOT STUDY FOR INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION
1 Purdue University North Central (UNITED STATES)
2 University of KwaZulu Natal (SOUTH AFRICA)
3 North Carolina A&T State University (UNITED STATES)
4 Morehouse School of Medicine (UNITED STATES)
5 Livingstone College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Background: Because the rate of new HIV infections among youth is a global crisis and youth ages 13-24 are at high risk of HIV infection, more international HIV/AIDS intervention initiatives targeting young adults are needed to help decrease the rate of HIV infections among young adults. In this study, we describe the impact of an online college-credit HIV/AIDS course on the HIV-related risk behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and knowledge of student course participants. We also describe the international development and implementation of the course into one internationally synchronized college credit course on HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and behavioural research. Methods: First, a pilot course was developed and ran through Blackboard for seven consecutive, 17-week semesters (3.5 years) at Purdue University North Central (PNC). As a 3-credit science elective, the interdisciplinary course covered topics on HIV prevention, transmission, the science of HIV disease, and the global impact of AIDS on society. Embedded into the online delivery of the course were weekly assessment, discussion board, movies, online animated short stories, and HIV risk assessment activities. A pre- and post-course online survey was administered to assess the impact of AOI on knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral practices of course participants. After running the pilot course, international collaborations were formed to begin the process of global student enrolment. Results: According to our PNC pilot study, students reported having more discussions about HIV with their sexual partners, were more reluctant to have unsafe sex, more likely to ask their partner to use a condom, and more confident in how to prevent contracting HIV. Students’ knowledge about HIV prevention/transmission increased significantly. After taking the AOI, students reported having more discussions about HIV with their peers/partners; students were more likely to use or consider the use of condoms; students felt comfortable discussing/negotiating safer sex with their partners; and students were more likely to see themselves at risk for HIV infection. Nearly 80% of the students believed that they were at risk of HIV infection (or not sure of their risk), but only 25% of the students had taken an HIV test or knew their HIV status. Nearly 90% of the students reported having their first sexual experience between the ages of 11 and 18. By the end of the 17-week semester, there was a 40% increase in the percent of students who reported using a latex condom during sex, an 86% increase in students who reported asking their partner’s HIV status, and over 90% increase in those who shared their HIV status with their partner. There was an overall decrease in the number of students engaging in unprotected sex (40%). The University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa has made AOI a mandatory part of their curriculum for pharmacy students. A few additional collaborations include universities in Nigeria, such as University of Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello University and U.S. universities such as, Morehouse School of Medicine,North Carolina A&T State University, and Livingstone. Conclusion: The implementation of an online college-credit HIV/AIDS course has proved to be an effective method of HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and behavioural research and may also be a viable HIV intervention initiative. Students are now enrolling internationally as we assess the initial global impact of AOI.
Keywords: aids, hiv, std, education, students, online courses, internet, sexual behavior.