Home Latest News New, Youth-Developed Chatbot Helps SEXfyi.org® Users Learn about Birth Control, STD prevention and Title X Health Center Locations

New, Youth-Developed Chatbot Helps SEXfyi.org® Users Learn about Birth Control, STD prevention and Title X Health Center Locations

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New, Youth-Developed Chatbot Helps SEXfyi.org® Users Learn about Birth Control, STD prevention and Title X Health Center Locations

SEXfyi.org® provides evidence-based, unbiased information about contraceptive options, Title X-funded health center locations and information about teens’ rights and confidentiality.

A new chatbot feature developed through a youth-driven collaboration in Santa Cruz County to help young people overcome barriers to accessing timely reproductive health care is now active on the Arizona Family Health Partnership (AFHP)-owned and operated informational website, www.SEXfyi.org®.

SEXfyi.org® provides evidence-based, unbiased information about contraceptive options, Title X-funded health center locations and information about teens’ rights and confidentiality.

The interactive chatbot is an Internet-based technological platform to initiate and conduct text conversations. Chatbot communications, as well as all information on www.SEXfyi.org®, is available in both English and Spanish.

“The credit for this innovative and easy-to-use chatbot goes directly to the young people who will benefit from its features the most,” said AFHP CEO Bré Thomas. “Under the leadership of the Mariposa Community Health Center, the collaboration of more than 70 university students, Mariposa-based peer health educators and youth patients, the team designed, developed and tested the chatbot, conducted focus groups and collected feedback that led to the end product. The bot is a remarkably important tool to ensure that medically based, accurate information is accessible and available to anyone.”

To begin the project, a research team sought to better understand barriers associated with the initiation of first-trimester prenatal care in Santa Cruz County. Through interviews and feedback from more than 50 teens and young adults, the team learned that lack of knowledge about pregnancy status, stigma, fear and shame were primary reasons for not using prenatal services.

The team hypothesized that providing a safe, accessible way for youth to gain knowledge about sexual and reproductive health would help reassure and empower them to seek out trusted information and clinical preventive care before they became pregnant. The bot was then designed to be individualized, confidential and culturally appropriate, primarily for young Hispanic people.

Over an 18-month period beginning in March 2018, the need for ongoing, systematic user feedback resulted in the formation of the Mariposa Youth Advisory Board, a group of five high school seniors who worked together to ensure youth and target population voices were elevated during the bot’s development and launch. The board’s young people named the iteration of the bot YoSShi, an acronym for Youth Seeking Sexual Health Information, on the Mariposa Community Health Center website.

“Through their efforts, we can now apply the chatbot technology to a much broader audience through SEXfyi.org®,” Thomas said.

For youth needing services in Santa Cruz County, chat with YoSShi at www.mariposachc.net. To connect with health centers in other counties and to try out the chatbot, visit www.SEXfyi.org®.