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The Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

Published: August 5, 2021

UTHealth has recently updated and modernized Native It’s Your Game (Native IYG), an internet-based HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), and pregnancy prevention curriculum designed for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) middle school-aged youth. The program, which was originally developed as a research prototype over a decade ago, has been upgraded to a modern web technology platform and is now available and fully functional online.

“Native IYG is an effective curriculum for native teens that utilizes technology that youth embrace,” said Michelle Singer, Project Manager at HealthyNativeYouth.org, an organization that provides technical assistance and training to tribal health educators, teachers and parents to access culturally, age-appropriate health promotion curricula and resources. “But the program needs to be accessible in our rural and urban settings. This long overdue modernization of the Native It’s Your Game curricula is very exciting and will be a welcome change by our educators who plan to implement it this coming school year.”

STI and birth rates among AI/AN adolescents exceed those of any other ethnic group in the US, and AI/AN females have the highest rates of chlamydia infection among US women. Native IYG was developed by researchers at UTHealth in collaboration with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, the Alaskan Native Tribal Health Consortium, and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona to delay or mitigate the consequences of early sexual activity in this underserved population while taking advantage of their high rates of adoption of technology.

“Native IYG has served Native communities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State for approximately 7 years,” said Dr. Ross Shegog, one of the Principle Investigators on the project. “Middle school-aged AI/AN youth who complete the Native IYG curricula have greater knowledge about condoms and HIV/STIs, greater confidence to acquire and use condoms, have more reasons to delay their sexual debut until they are older, and are more likely to have a goal of completing high school.”

Native IYG is derived from It’s Your Game…Keep it Real (IYG), a theory-based, abstinence-plus HIV, STI and pregnancy prevention curriculum that is listed by the DHHS Office of Population Affairs as an effective program in delaying adolescent sexual debut. Native IYG has been adapted for cultural relevancy for AI/AN youth and communities. It has been rated favorably by students and tribal stakeholders as suitable for implementation in tribal settings.

“I anticipate a boom in Native IYG implementation across Indian Country and Alaska with this modernization effort,” said Singer. “It will be fun to see and hear over this next year.”

Native IYG is available online at https://www.healthynativeyouth.org/