VCSTD - Virtual Clinic for Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Use of Avatars and Social Networks in Public Health Interventions.
The project describes an intervention, a Virtual Clinic for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (VCSTD), which aims at providing early guidance and reliable information sources concerning reproductive health, delivered in a novel and innovative way to the younger population. The VCSTD user interects with the system through an “avatar”, a created identity on the Internet. A person will use the “avatar” identity, instead of its own, to interact on the net. This helps maintaining his/her anonymity supported intervention, which will bypass direct physical access (in person) to medical information.
The use of non-direct, or computer-mediated, communication (e.g., email, instant messaging, sms), has been proven to minimize the social and cultural constraints relating to the communication of sensitive matters. It is well known that young people seek information about sensitive matters, including reproductive health, outside mainstream information providers. The social network features of the VCSTD has built in knowledge processing features providing customized help and guidance to its users tailored according to the information needs of the individual users. The VCSTD will also act as a source of knowledge expansion and insight regarding the prevalence and evolution patterns of STDs in society.