Volume 69, Issue 6 p. 798-806

Managing Hypervisibility in the HIV Prevention Information-Seeking Practices of Black Female College Students

Lynette Kvasny

Corresponding Author

Lynette Kvasny

Pennsylvania State University, College of Information Sciences & Technology, 329C IST Building, University Park, PA, 16802

E-mail: [email protected]Search for more papers by this author
Fay Cobb Payton

Fay Cobb Payton

North Carolina State University, College of Management, Campus Box 7229, Raleigh, NC, 27695

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First published: 27 January 2018
Citations: 11


While information resources have contributed to the overall decline in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in the United States, these benefits have not been experienced equally. Our article describes formative research conducted as part of a larger study focused on the development of an online HIV prevention platform tailored for Black female college students. To inform the design of our platform, we conducted focus groups with 60 Black women enrolled at two predominantly White institutions (PWIs). The purpose of the focus groups was to understand information needs, awareness of specific information resources, and the search strategies employed for finding and evaluating HIV prevention information. We used hypervisibility as a sensitizing lens for making sense of how the intersecting gender and racial identities of Black womanhood shape information-seeking behavior. Four themes emerged: platform choice and privacy, relatability, respectability politics, and silence on campus. The themes depict discursive representations specific to Black female identity to manage stigma, reduce their hypervisibility, and amplify their authentic voices in the broader HIV prevention discourse. Our findings contribute to human information behavior scholarship on marginalized groups.