ACRIA: Older Adults and HIV Education

The challenge

In 2007, the nonprofit ACRIA was funded by the New York City Council and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to develop a citywide program that included training and technical assistance to aging services and healthcare providers on topics such as HIV awareness and prevention education for older adults. ACRIA knew that previous attempts to attract seniors to sessions on such topics had largely failed, and they needed a different approach.  In order to reach beyond service providers and gain the attention of older adults through innovative approaches, ACRIA turned to OATS for help.

The strategy

Create a tech training program geared towards for seniors that blended into the experience of learning how to use a computer and the internet, information on HIV and older adults, how to find testing locations, how to share sensitive information, and how to advocate against ageism in the medical profession.

The solution

OATS worked together with ACRIA to create HIV awareness and prevention content that was then inserted into the existing 10-week “Computer Basics” course, and covered during the training sessions that covered accessing health resources online. In order to ensure that it was presented in a natural way to the older adult participants, the content was designed to integrate seamlessly into the skill-building and conversational adult-learning style of the course in general. Over the course of several years, OATS has used the curriculum with more than 1,000 older adults. OATS also helped ACRIA design public awareness campaigns geared toward older adults and presented on bus shelters throughout New York City.