Internship Reflection

Sarah Johnson at Gobee Group: Community-based access to HIV treatment and domestic violence prevention

In addition to the HCD and process skills I developed, we also held a Design Equity Book Club. We discussed the challenges and necessities of centering anti-racism and equity more broadly in design work.
February 8, 2021
Sarah Johnson

Gobee Group is a small social innovation design consultancy which partners with clients in the private, public and social sectors to create products, services and organizations for impact. To that end, Gobee places a strong emphasis on the use of Human-Centered Design (HCD), a highly iterative and collaborative process which provides creative methods for deeply understanding human behavior to develop new ideas and solutions directly for and with the intended user. 

This summer I worked on a number of projects with Gobee including part of the Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) project. Gobee used an HCD approach to inform community-based access to HIV antiretroviral treatment (ART) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among people who inject drugs (PWID) and men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We did this by assessing both current community knowledge of PrEP and clients’ preferences for ART services. I joined this project in its early stages and assisted with a variety of tasks. I first expanded the existing landscape analysis by performing a deep dive on five cases of  HCD use for PrEP initiatives (including demand generation, uptake and retention of oral PrEP, and linkage to care) as well as gathering more generally information on PrEP initiatives through the PrEPWatch Virtual Learning Network. I also assisted with interviews Gobee conducted with local community service organizations (CSOs) in the two target countries as well as a WhatsApp focus group of Peer Navigators from those CSOs. Finally, I helped consolidate our findings into key insights to structure a co-design workshop among key experts, decision makers, and members of these key populations to focus on the challenges faced by said populations. 

Another of my projects, “Got Your Back” (GYB), was at a much later stage. GYB was one of four teams formed in the Reimagine Lab incubator run by Gobee in 2018/2019 and supported by the Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF). The GYB team had identified 11-14 year-olds as a target population to reach using technology to prevent domestic violence, but had overall reached a stopping point. My tasks were to re-examine and synthesize all work to date and identify the feasibility of different paths forward. During this process I performed secondary research on youth looking at everything from dating abuse and sexual behavior to technology use and user experience design. I also developed preliminary personas and developed multiple product concepts.

 In addition to the many HCD and process skills Gobee helped me develop, we also held a weekly “Design Equity Book Club” in which we discussed the challenges and necessities of centering anti-racism and equity more broadly in design work.

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