WP 66 Technology Affordance Maybe Not: The Case of HIV Stigma and Black Women

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
International Ballroom
Fay Cobb Payton, PhD, MBA, IS/IT Department, NC State University, Raleigh, NC and Lynette Kvasny, PhD, Information School, Penn State University, University Park, PA

Background:  Although a growing body of research delineates the obstacles to Blacks' engagement in preventive health services, relatively little is known about the barriers that adversely affect Black women's ability to find health information. 

Methods:  Focus groups to appraise current African-American female college students’ attitudes and perceptions of messages presented on HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness websites were used from 2011-2013.  Data were coded by independent coders from two locations - one predominately white institute located in the Southeast and another in the Northeast. 

Results:  We term these bright side affordance which enables social and political movements, social justice, removal of time and spatial dimensions, and empowerment.  Technology affordance, like social capital, can create social structure.  Structure is communicated when users can navigate the “artifact or tool” when context and social capital “benefits” exist.

Conclusions:  Conflict exists between the IT artifact bright side affordance (human-to-human interaction, empowerment, knowledge sharing, social justice, etc.) and the connection to a stigmatized condition particularly in the digital space.   While much of our data disclosed “bright side” affordances by the study’s participants, there were “dark side” affordances that emerged from the participants in both locations.  Primarily, the “dark side”, yet, unanticipated affordance that emerged as a result of personal reputation management in social media space, particularly in the context of stigmatized health conditions, such as HIV.