divya nayar


People Who Look Like Me

I had the opportunity to participate in a Practice-Based Studio at MICA’s Center for Social Design. Practice-Based Studio brings students from a variety of disciplines together with outside partners from government, nonprofit and business sectors to identify opportunities, generate ideas, and make tools for positive social change. This project was an ongoing partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department to generate new approaches to HIV prevention and care across Baltimore using human–centered design.

How might we aid and engage community around HIV prevention and care regardless of status?

The BCHD (Baltimore City Health Department) Social Innovation Team organized a series of Listening Tours and Pop-up Photo Event to help expand the message of People Who Look Like Me – a new campaign which emphasizes that everyone has a role to play in the prevention and discussion of HIV.The MICA team worked through these events to collect stories and quotes to better understand the success and challenges around the campaign. We narrowed down four target areas in the campaign: Talk, Test, Prevent, and Care.

How might we encourage people to think expansively about prevention?

The group I was a part of within the MICA team focused on the target area of Prevention. For our first community event we decided to create a hypothetical subscription box that could start the conversation of what prevention means to an individual. At the event we asked participants to imagine  they could get a personalized subscription box for their HIV prevention needs. We asked them what they would like to go in their Prevention Pack. We then asked them to write down what they would “subscribe for” and documented their answers via polaroid. The responses were shared at our second community shareback event.

Shareback and Ideation.

At the community shareback, our groups presented their activities from the photo event and the information they derived from the participants. We then went on to facilitate  multiple rounds of ideation by dividing the shareback’s attendees into rotating groups for each target area: Talk, Test, Prevent, and Care. The attendees were asked to brainstorm solutions for the insights that were stated.  At the end of the shareback we asked attendees to go around and “dot” the ideas that they thought had the most potential.


We worked through the ideas brainstormed during the shareback and identified the most popular ideas. From their, we broke into groups again and each group prototyped their assigned idea. The group  I was a part of prototyped the idea for a prophylactic vending machine that could be branded and installed in several locations. The vending machine went through three rounds of prototyping. The intial idea for the name was “Safe = Sexy”. While this name was catchy and popular, it was decided that a name that could provide discretion for its user to reduce the stigma around HIV was a better choice. “The Hive” was then selected because of its playfulness and breadth in branding possibilities.

Final Shareback.

At our final shareback of the semester, we presented our prototype of “The Hive”. I worked together with my group members to design and organize the information we gathered. We asked participants to engage with our wall to collect more information about what would be most successful to execute “The Hive” vending machine. The information we were looking for included what would be the interface of the vending machine, what products the vending machine could vend, and where the vending machine could exist. While this was the final shareback I was a part of, the project is being continued by Practice-Based Studio and BCHD.