The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital

04 Jan 2019

Australia’s first HIV hackathon delivers innovative interventions.

A vending machine that provides hygiene products as well as HIV testing kits, has taken out first place at Australia’s first HIV Hackathon.

Held in celebration of World AIDS Day on 1 December, #TestFestVic saw teams compete over two days, to create a digital-related invention (hardware or software) to increase HIV testing in Victoria.

Contestants were given four personas to target who may be at risk of HIV but don’t usually access testing facilities, or understand their risk of HIV. They were:

  • Young women (<30 years) who study, travel or work abroad
  • International students
  • Community members with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
  • Community members who identify with and travel to high endemic countries (i.e. Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Eastern European nations).

Live Aid’s winning creation, #HumansOfHIV, included an inbuilt screen sharing stories of people with HIV, in an attempt to break down barriers and encourage at risk people to get tested.

They will receive a $10,000 development grant and access to experts to assist them in taking their invention to market.

In second place was a chat app, Health Buddy, which would enable people to access information easily and quickly. Available 24 hours a day, it contained information about a variety of sexual diseases as well as general information about sexual issues.

A concerted effort went into making sure the app was friendly, as well as culturally sensitive, with users being able to pick an avatar they feel comfortable talking to, to represent their Health Buddy.

An innovative mobile game, Sur-viral, took out third place. Through different interactions with the game, users get meaningful and contextual information around HIV, and testing.

Sophiya Patel, one of the members of the Hackanators who created the game, said they hoped to address the stigma which can exist around HIV testing, by creating a shift in the mindset of a younger generation

“From playing the game users will be better equipped with information about the disease as well as being able to access an existing support network,” Sophiya said.   

Event organiser Zen Andra congratulated all the teams who participated and thanked them for all their hard work and positive thinking over the two days.

“We are looking forward to seeing these ideas and inventions continue to increase HIV testing in Victoria,” Zen said.

“Ideas like these will help us reach our 90-90-90 targets and reduce the negative impact caused by stigma and discrimination, for people wo are living with HIV”.

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