Purpose: Adolescents are the age group that is least likely to know their HIV status and may unknowingly transmit the virus to others. A randomized controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the impact of the original video game intervention, PlayTest!, on behavioral antecedents for HIV testing and counseling (HTC).
Methods: Participants (N ¼ 287 adolescents) were recruited between 2018 and 2020 and were 48% female, aged 14e18 years (mean age ¼ 15.4 years), and 76% racial minorities. Participants were randomized 1:1 and assigned to either play PlayTest! or a set of control games, wone session per week for an hour per session over 4e6 weeks (gameplay) after school. The primary outcome measure was participants’ attitudes around HTC at 6 months, with intentions, knowledge, self-efficacy, and behaviors assessed as secondary outcomes.
Results: Two hundred and ninety-six participants were enrolled/randomized; nine were withdrawn due to incomplete parental consent forms, leaving 287 participants: 145 were randomized to PlayTest! and 142 to the control condition. Mixed between-within subjects ANOVAs assessed the impact of the study conditions on outcomes. Improvements were seen in the PlayTest! group in HTC attitudes (p < .001), intentions (p < .001), knowledge (p < .001), and self-efficacy (p ¼ .002) at all time-points. At 6 months, for those who had access to HTC (N ¼ 134; prior to COVID-19) and for those who did not have access to HTC (N ¼ 261; during COVID-19), there were no differences in self-reported HTC between the two groups (p ¼ .289 and p ¼ .074, respectively).
Discussion: PlayTest! impacted important behavioral antecedents related to HTC and has the potential to broadly increase HTC rates in adolescents.