LinCS 2 Durham provides opportunities for members of Black communities in Durham, North Carolina and scientists in the region to learn and work together to find new ways to prevent HIV. Read on to find out what's happening.
If the LinCS 2 Durham project is news to you and you'd like to know more, we invite you to attend a meeting of the project's Collaborative Council. The details are below.
Let us know you're coming! Please get in touch with Randy Rogers, a public health education specialist for the Durham County Health Department and coordinator of the LinCS 2 Durham Collaborative Council: firstname.lastname@example.org; (919) 560-7675.
Point of View: Shola Olabode-Dada
LinCS 2 Durham welcomes the chance to share the views of participants in the initiative. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer.
Don't Drink the Water
I am a pretty adventurous person, always willing to try new things. When I studied abroad for five months at the age of 20, I decided that I was going to drink the water. I didn't know that drinking the water would be much of a risk and no one told me otherwise. The first sign of trouble came the morning after a wonderful meal that was a bit too spicy. I didn't feel well but I attributed that to the vicious kick of the peppers in the food. I figured I'd slow down on the spicy food and double up on the water, because water fixes everything.
This cycle of events kept me in the bathroom, but I was still unaware of what was going on and didn't bother to see a doctor. Instead, I continued to drink the water. I was raised to think that if we just drank water and sat down somewhere, then our physical ailments would disappear. This notion was handed down from great grandparents to grandparents to parents, and stems from the inaccessibility of health care. We don't have to live like that anymore. I know now that water was definitely not the answer to my problem. In this instance, drinking the water equates to doing nothing and expecting things to get better eventually. I wasn't doing what it took to take care of my body. Not getting tested for HIV arises from the same misconception.
As a Black woman, I've heard too many stories in which members of my community had some illness and felt pain but didn't go to the doctor. Pain is definitely an indication that something is wrong. HIV is more insidious: the infection may not always be associated with pain, because of its asymptomatic nature. The only way to know if one is infected is to get tested regularly. HIV is no longer an exotic and rare disease that can be ignored; the statistics reveal to us that it is negatively impacting our communities. Despite the prevalence of HIV in the United States, we are becoming less sexually responsible due to such things as watered-down messages from the media. More people shouldn't have to die in order to make testing the norm. We have to take the necessary steps to take care of our bodies by going to the doctor and getting tested.
In my case, I stopped drinking the water when I left the country. If I had gone to a doctor then I would have gotten better faster. Drinking water is not enough and it will not rid us of illness and pain. We cannot continue to do the things that make us sick. Our behavior should reflect our reality. Therefore, we must recognize that HIV is real and get tested regularly.
Shola Olabode-Dada is a doctoral candidate in the Psychology in the Public Interest program at North Carolina State University, pursuing a degree in Community Psychology. Shola's dissertation focuses on the religious involvement of African American men and how it relates to their health behaviors. Her research interests also include media literacy, entertainment education, the use of community-based participatory research to address public health issues, and HIV/AIDS-related attitudes and behaviors among African Americans. Originally from Chicago, Shola has been in North Carolina for eight years and lives in Raleigh. Her most recent position was as a project director at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, managing a study that aims to improve the health of African American men who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
Message from the Collaborative Council Facilitator
The Collaborative Council (CC) has been actively engaged in HIV prevention technologies presentations for the past couple of months, offering provocative questions and insights in response to the information shared.
This type of exchange reinforces the importance of bringing community members and researchers together to talk candidly about the work being done to advance biomedical research in an atmosphere fostering mutual respect and understanding. In my observation, it's crystal clear that CC members would like to know how clinical trials research affects the participants and also to know the overall benefits and challenges to HIV prevention and treatment from a global perspective.
The CC's exchanges with researchers are an evolving process, with bumps and bruises along the way. However, the emergent interpersonal relationships among LinCS 2 Durham staff and community members have made this process achievable. This has been partially accomplished by the conscientious effort of the LinCS 2 Durham staff to be transparent with information sharing and to be open to critical feedback from our community partners. Again, this process isn't always easy for a multitude of reasons but it is totally necessary.
The next couple of months will be particularly interesting as the CC moves forward, providing their vital input on the direction of LinCS 2 Durham. The LinCS 2 Durham staff realize that the feedback of CC community members is essential in determining future research agendas. This will also be an ideal opportunity for the CC to evaluate the effectiveness and practicality of their decision-making process, which they developed and approved. Stay tuned.
Randy Rogers serves as coordinator and facilitator of the LinCS 2 Durham Collaborative Council. He is a public health education specialist with the Division of Health Education at the Durham County Health Department.
Staff Profile: Marcus Hawley
Coming in the next issue of the newsletter. Watch this space!
HIV and Black America in the News
pill found effective in preventing HIV
Researchers at the University of Washington announced on July 13, 2011 that its Partners PrEP trial demonstrated effectiveness in preventing heterosexual HIV transmission among men and women in Kenya and Uganda. In a second announcement the same day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that its TDF2 trial also demonstrated effectiveness in preventing heterosexual HIV transmission among men and women in Botswana.
Results announced by these two clinical trial teams, Partners PrEP and TDF2, "demonstrate for the very first time that daily antiretroviral (ARV) drug therapy can dramatically reduce the risk of HIV infection for heterosexual couples" according to commentary by the Black AIDS Institute.
The Partners PrEP trial was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the TDF2 trial was funded by the CDC.
site and conference reflect on 30 years of experience with
a part of the LinCS 2 Durham project
You're also invited to share your knowledge with the LinCS 2 Durham project team. Tell us what you think about this effort. If you come across something interesting in the news related to HIV, send it to us. And let us know about local events that would be good opportunities to spread the word about LinCS 2 Durham. We thank you for your interest and help!
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