The Baylor Teen Health Clinic has increasingly turned to technology to communicate important messages about teen sexuality. Its latest tool is a series of videos for the Internet designed to increase awareness of sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
The videos, called webisodes, are a collaboration of the Teen Health Clinic and the University of Houston’s Valenti School of Communication.
"We drew on our expertise here at the Teen Health Clinic and the talents of students and faculty at the University of Houston to develop these webisodes. Our goal is to offer information about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in an effective way but that might also be appealing to teens," said Dr. Peggy Smith, director of the Teen Health Clinic and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BCM.
Sexually transmitted infections and HIV are significant problems among teens and adolescents, Smith said.
The webisodes, called "Caught Off Guard," offer lessons in the importance of using protection and communicating with your partners as well as information about HIV and STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea. They also offer information about the Teen Health Clinic, and what people can expect when they make an appointment there.
The five webisodes will air on Teen Health Clinic. The videos follow two young people, Brandon and Ashley, portrayed by UH students, who are dealing with issues related to sexually transmitted infections. Brandon is concerned that he has an STI, and a friend urges him to visit the clinic. Meanwhile, Ashley tests negative for HIV and STIs but is prompted to start discussions with other young people about protecting themselves and getting tested.
"The characters were developed in a way that we think our clients will be able to relate to," said Smith. "We owe a lot of credit to the students at the University of Houston who worked on this project."
In addition to portraying the characters, UH students wrote scripts in conjunction with Baylor Teen Health Clinic staff. They were also involved in all aspects of the video production, which was overseen by Ward Booth, media production manager at the University of Houston.
Input on the video’s messages was also obtained from patients at the Baylor Teen Health Clinic through their participation in focus groups that concentrated on ways to effectively communicate important health information to teens.
The Teen Health Clinic has turned to technology in other ways as well. It launched an interactive website that includes features geared toward teens and has also started texting appointment reminders and health information to its clients who sign up for that service.
A breakfast premiere of the webisodes will be held at 9 a.m., Dec. 13, in the Baylor Teen Health Clinic’s Cullen Clinic, 5737 Cullen Blvd., Houston, TX 77021. Please RSVP to Anne Van Horn at713-256-6593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.