Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a research-driven, design-focused approach to creating solutions that require change in human behavior or actions. Exploring messaging, packaging and product attributes of an HIV prevention product is one example of how HCD can be used to inform development of products that can fit into the lives of women and that women want to consistently use.
While existing literature from socio-behavioral studies discusses how lifestyles, hygiene practices, sexual risk taking, activities preceding intercourse, and potential for covert use may affect the uptake of microbicides, HCD studies focus not only on individual behavior and social, peer and community influences, but extend to understanding how product design, branding, packaging and messaging influence the user’s choices, confidence and long term engagement with the product. Given the complicated factors that surround uptake of a product designed to prevent HIV, HCD may provide valuable and additional insights into end-user preferences.
Thanks to the funding and support of PEPFAR through USAID, CONRAD is collaborating with the global design firm IDEO and other partners to find HCD solutions to improve adherence to microbicides and ultimately, to implement these solutions in a way that will make a real impact in preventing new HIV infections.
In 2014, CONRAD partnered with IDEO to bring an integrated and iterative research strategy to the microbicide field. IDEO utilized the CAPRISA team as an in-country partner focusing on drug delivery systems (DDSs) (microbicide gels, IVRs, tablets and films), product messaging, and access/adherence strategies (digital and analogue reminders, websites, mobile applications). These initial pilot data identified several key drivers and potential barriers to microbicide uptake, correct use and long-term adherence, which needs further qualitative and quantitative testing among high-risk end users from an expanded geographic, socioeconomic and cultural scope.
Thanks to a funding agreement from PEPFAR through USAID, Project EMOTION has expanded on Project KAROO, with the goal of increasing uptake and correct and consistent use of antiretroviral (ARV)-based HIV prevention products by women at high risk of HIV infection using an end-user centered strategy.
EMOTION was the first project to utilize human centered design (HCD) to develop branding, messaging and packaging for microbicide products in order to enhance awareness, desire and demand for microbicides and lead to greater uptake and proper adherence by high-risk end users. The HCD methodology was used as the basis for this project, as it complements and expands upon existing sociobehavioral (SB) and acceptability research in the HIV prevention field.
Progress to Date
EMOTION completed HCD field research (Kalahari 1 and 2) in December 2015 and July 2016, respectively. The team interviewed more than 230 young women, men, health care providers and community leaders in both urban and rural regions in South Africa. Design elements of select PrEP products (oral PrEP and vaginal inserts) were also refined for further iteration.
Selected products, brands, packaging and communication materials designed under Projects Kalahari I and II were manufactured for brand positioning, refinement and message clarification in accordance with Social and Behavioral Change theory principals for Project Siyavala (October-November 2016 in Western Cape, Johannesburg, and KZN in collaboration with Abt Associates and Matchboxology). All elements of the system are cohesively united by a branded design andmessaging system called "V".
Launching V Toolkit
Under Project EMOTION, CONRAD and IDEO developed a comprehensive HCD intervention toolkit (“Launching V”) that details how the designs from projects Kalahari and Siyavala can be implemented in a public clinic. This is a user-centric, do-it-yourself resource for healthcare workers and other implementers, with sections describing the project story and methodology, including a summary of how the strategic blueprint and associated designs were developed; insights derived from the previous field research; blueprint journey maps for healthcare providers and users showing the intervention components; high level description of how to deploy/adapt the intervention blueprint; descriptions of all the intervention components, including a cost analysis and organizational recommendations; and an asset library with design files for the intervention components (CAD, illustrator, etc. as appropriate). The intervention components include newly developed provider and patient conversation tools built on principles and tone of HCD, such as guiding materials for HCPs on how to talk to patients and materials for HCPs to give patients, all of which are downloadable from the Launching V webpage. Written copy for daily recurring adherence messages that can be delivered by text or other digital platform are also available on the Launching V webpages.
In addition, the Launching V materials include a cost of goods analysis for the starter kits, Information Education Communication (IEC) materials, and other production elements.
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