Every year, December 1 is observed as World Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Day. Since 1988, this day has been dedicated to raise awareness about the syndrome, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes it and also remember and mourn the people who lost their lives to the disease. On this occasion, this year, a gaming application that seeks to promote awareness about the disease is set to be launched in Dave City, Philippines.
The game application, Battle in the Blood (BitB) has been developed in collaboration with the UK government and the Philippine government. “Our collaborators are from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), we are from UP Manila National Institute of Health and our developers are from DM studios,” said Emmanuel Baja, doctor at UP National Institutes Of Health and principal developer and investigator of (BTIP) while speaking to Sun.Star Superbalita Davao. Baja also added that the game has 90 levels.
“You create your own avatar and the avatar goes inside the capsule and it goes inside your blood. So the main objective of the game is to fight HIV and its co-infections,” he said. The gaming application includes eight short stories of people who have been living with HIV. Speaking about them he said, “These are courageous stories. It includes heterosexual relationship in the mother and child transmission case. We have homosexual. We have bi-sexual relationship. We also have transgender and we talk about employee-employee relationship. There is an OFW and there is a child who was also sexually abused.”
The game will be available on Google Play and Apple Store for free of cost from December 1. The main objective of the application is to promote awareness and also encourage people to get themselves tested and assure them there are treatments available in the local government. “All they have to do is to know their status and get tested,” Baja said.
There is also a reason why Davao city has been chosen as the place to launch the application. According to a report in Sun.Star Superbalita Davao, most number of HIV cases have been recorded in the Davao region. BitB is the first gaming application of its kind that would be launched in Davao City. In Buhangin, Tugbok, and Bankerohan a gaming contest has been already launched, the winner of which will be announced on December 1.
Speaking to Davao Today.com, Baja said, “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,” he said. “This gaming app is a very powerful communication tool to address the stigma of HIV especially among young MSMs (men having sex with men) and TG (transgender) women who are at a higher risk for HIV infection,” he added.