Informing HIV social care service design through participatory zine making

Kiersten Hay, Abigail Durrant, Lynne Coventry, Sheema Tariq, Gill Longfield

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Visual communication materials relating to HIV have long included activist, community-based design practices such as zine making.
Arguably, a need for new graphic materials has arisen in the wake of medical advancement, to accurately reflect contemporaneous experiences of living with HIV. As HIV discourse pursues ‘future-oriented’ narratives (Namiba et al. 2016) in order to move past cyclical descriptions of HIV stigma, it is crucial to generate new materials from which to draw upon. This is especially true for underrepresented groups, such as women living with HIV, for whom there is little historical visual documentation.
We utilised participatory design methods to investigate how a group of women living with HIV in the UK conceptualised and visually expressed their experiences of peer support services through zine making. Weekly workshops were conducted over five weeks with nine members of a peer support group in the North East of England, hosted by a local charity.
The workshops were facilitated by two staff members of the charity and led by a designer-researcher (the first author). Using a method informed by Wizinsky’s translational model of design research (2019) and the participatory empirical graphic design approach of Bennett et al (2006), the workshops resulted in the production of a 24-page zine, and themes associated with strengths gained through peer support.
We make two contributions to Design4Health. Firstly, we illustrate the experiences of the ‘time’ theme using language, visual metaphors,
and narrative structures. Secondly, from a methodological perspective, we explore the role of the designerresearcher at various stages to inform our understanding of meaningful participant involvement. We present zine making as a novel visual participatory method, informing service design through community-based means.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th International Conference on Design4Health
EditorsKirsty Christer, Claire Craig, Paul Chamberlain
Place of PublicationSheffield
PublisherSheffield Hallam University
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781838111700
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
EventDesign4Health 2020: Designing Future Health - University of Twente, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 1 Jul 20203 Jul 2020


ConferenceDesign4Health 2020
Internet address


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