Playing public health: building the HIVe

Apperley, Thomas and Walsh, Christopher S. (2012). Playing public health: building the HIVe. Digital Culture & Education, 4(1) pp. 167–175.



In thinking through the impact of digital media on how frontline workers, activists, practitioners and researchers understand and fight HIV and AIDS, it is important to acknowledge that digital media does not only provide new channels and strategies for communicating information around HIV prevention and education. It also establishes innovative domains for conceiving of, and building, ‘resilient communities’ like The HIVe. Such digital interventions are cultural assets that confront biomedical and behavioural approaches to HIV prevention and education. Immersive and social technologies, network ubiquity and low cost mobile phones provide new tools for aggregating, representing, collecting and disseminating community-based and led data that ‘plays’ public health differently. This play involves fore-fronting the success of social science HIV prevention and education against the essentialist logic of dominant biomedical approaches. ‘Playing public health’ provides an entirely new and comprehensive picture of the agency of the HIV virus that goes beyond the pathology of the individual. This paper proposes the goal of putting HIV prevention back into the ‘game’ of public health and playing it to win by building The HIVe.

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