This thesis project uses animation to communicate the risk of HIV transmission via breastfeeding to mothers living with HIV in Canada. Current guidelines do not recommend breastfeeding for HIV+ mothers because there is always some level of risk. Knowledge of mother-to-child transmission is poor, and the cultural pressure to breastfeed has complex implications. It was essential that the science of transmission risk be conveyed in a clear and culturally sensitive manner, to allow women to make appropriate, informed decisions about whether or not to breastfeed. To accomplish this, we adopted a user-testing approach. Throughout development, the script, animatic, and character designs were presented for feedback to members of the target audience, healthcare providers, and representatives from Canadian HIV organizations in an iterative design process. At each round of feedback, the script, animatic, and visual assets were revised, and sent for further comment. Ongoing collaboration with the target audience helped us develop an animation with a wide diversity of characters, culturally sensitive metaphors, and nuanced descriptions of risk, in response to feedback that detailed desires about representation and identified how concepts were being misunderstood. User-testing approaches are necessary when creating patient education animations. Population needs, background, and context have a dramatic impact on patient understanding, and cannot be understood properly without user testing and direct feedback. Doing so helps prevent insensitive concepts and easily misinterpreted information, and thus is key to effective patient education animation.

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This Vesalius Trust research poster was presented at the 2018 Association of Medical Illustrators' Annual Meeting in Newton, Massachusetts



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3. Gray, K. et al. The East African health study in Toronto (EAST): results from a survey of HIV and health-related behavior, beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge. The HIV Social, Behavioural, and Epidemiological Studies Unit, University of Toronto. 2008.

4. Greene, S. et al. "Why aren't you breastfeeding?": How mothers living with HIV talk about infant feeding in a "breast is best" world. Health Care for Woman International. 2015; 36(8): 883–901.

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6. Muchenje, M., Kennedy, V. L. Beyond Silence and Stigma: Pregnancy and HIV for Black Women in Canada. In J. Oparah & A. Bonaparte (Eds.), Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth. Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.


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