CATIE wanted to update a resource for folks newly diagnosed with HIV. We worked with HIV positive co-designers to shape the messages they needed to hear when they received their diagnoses — that the lives they had dreamed of were all still possible.
Receiving a positive HIV test can be a traumatizing experience due to decades of stigma and inadequate access to good care. However, incredible organizing efforts in the HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ2S communities in Canada have given rise to huge improvements in treatment and care.
CATIE was updating the content in an old resource to reflect these improvements, and approached And Also Too about updating the design.
The Co-Design Process
And Also Too asked CATIE and People with AIDS Toronto to convene an advisory council of HIV positive folks. The group consisted of immigrants and non-immigrants, all genders, and represented a wide age range. Some had been living with HIV for many years, while others were more recently diagnosed.
We began by looking at the booklet that was being updated, along with other HIV resources. We discussed the titles and images, and how each one made them feel. The advisors placed these resources on an axis to rank how reassuring each one was, and how likely they’d be to share the resource with a friend.
Using collage techniques, the advisors remixed those resources into new covers for the booklet we were updating. They wrote new titles and created new images.
The covers created by the advisors were rich with creativity and meaning. Each one was reassuring, focused on care, and dispelled stigma.
The pivotal moment in this process was when one advisor presented her collage, which depicted a couple getting married and having a baby. She shared that when she first learned she was HIV positive, she fell into despair at having to give up her dreams. But through prayer, she came to see that all these dreams were still possible.
The consensus around this concept was strong and immediate. Although not everyone resonated with the religious experience, they agreed that this was the message that they wished they had heard. They wanted to let others with HIV know that a life full of joy, activity, and connection was still possible.
Based on this concept, And Also Too created a digital sketch and the working title “Yes, It’s All Still Possible.” We shared this with the advisors, who unanimously approved it.
We then commissioned illustrations to depict everyday scenes, as well as concepts that spoke to the emotional journey of an HIV positive diagnosis.
It’s All Still Possible delivers the reassurance and guidance that are so needed when someone receives their positive test. It provides up-to-date information on how people with HIV in Canada can live a long and healthy life, due to huge improvements in treatment and care. Thanks to the brilliance of the advisory council, it conveys this message without stigmatizing or infantilizing HIV positive folks.
Note: When depicting human bodies, And Also Too advocates for diverse representations of ability and size. Sadly with this project, our recommendations were overruled.
DOWNLOAD THE BOOKLET
It’s all still possible: Starting points for living well with HIV
An easy-to-read primer for individuals who are newly diagnosed with HIV. This concise guide contains basic information on HIV, treatment, how to stay healthy and avoid passing HIV to others, disclosure and next steps.
Tout est encore possible : Points de départ pour bien vivre avec le VIH
Un guide facile à lire pour les personnes qui viennent de recevoir un diagnostic de VIH. Ce guide concis contient des informations de base sur le VIH, le traitement, comment rester en bonne santé et éviter de transmettre le VIH aux autres, le dévoilement et les prochaines étapes.