Surveillance, stigma & sociotechnical design for HIV




HIV, online dating, design, policy, surveillance, intimacy, social computing, social justice


Online dating and hookup platforms have fundamentally changed people’s day-to-day practices of sex and love — but exist in tension with older social and medicolegal norms. This is particularly the case for people with HIV, who are frequently stigmatized, surveilled, ostracized, and incarcerated because of their status. Efforts to make intimate platforms “work” for HIV frequently focus on user-to-user interactions and disclosure of one’s HIV status but elide both the structural forces at work in regulating sex and the involvement of the state in queer lives. In an effort to foreground these forces and this involvement, we analyze the approaches that intimate platforms have taken in designing for HIV disclosure through a content analysis of 50 current platforms. We argue that the implicit reinforcement of stereotypes about who HIV is or is not a concern for, along with the failure to consider state practices when designing for data disclosure, opens up serious risks for HIV-positive and otherwise marginalized people. While we have no panacea for the tension between disclosure and risk, we point to bottom-up, communal, and queer approaches to design as a way of potentially making that tension easier to safely navigate.

Author Biographies

Calvin Liang, University of Washington, Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering

Calvin Liang is a PhD student in Human-Centered Design and Engineering at The University of Washington. Their research broadly focuses on technology’s role in and out of queerness, health, and queer health.

Jevan Alexander Hutson, University of Washington, School of Law

Jevan Hutson is a third-year law student and Gregoire Fellow at the University of Washington School of Law. He holds an M.P.S. from the Department of Information Science at Cornell University, and a B.A. from the Department of Art History and Visual Studies at Cornell University. He has been published in venues including the Association for Computing Machinery’s conferences on Computer Human Interaction and Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing

Os Keyes, University of Washington, Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering

Os Keyes is a PhD student in Human-Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, and an inaugural Ada Lovelace Fellow. Their research examines gender, technology and (counter)power, with a particular focus on the ways technologies of measurement shape and define queer communities.




How to Cite

Liang, C., Hutson, J. A., & Keyes, O. (2020). Surveillance, stigma & sociotechnical design for HIV. First Monday, 25(10).