Harnessing images to prevent HIV/AIDS

Team builds digital photography toolkit to improve prevention programs

Collaborating with a team of education researchers in Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa, McGill University’s Eun Park is building a digital network archive of photography from HIV/AIDS prevention. Park’s team works closely with schools in all three countries, training teachers to show classes how to use digital cameras to document their experiences and share them in a network of several thousand pictures.

For Park, it is vital to bring the potential of digital technology to bear on the challenge of improving prevention programs. The team plans to expand the network, bringing more countries into the project.

“Technology has been evolving so quickly,” she says. “But at the same time, there is a big digital divide between advanced countries and developing countries.”

By providing easy-to-use tools with which to share their lives and personal experiences, the project empowers students in a number of ways, from learning skills like digital photography, coding and blogging, to overcoming the social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

“AIDS prevention is a worldwide, global, urgent issue,” Park says, adding that Canada has a vital role in addressing AIDS both at home and abroad. “The Canadian team is a leader, and Canada can be a leader in addressing these kinds of global challenges.”