Newsletter banner

News August/September/October 2011
Volume 3
Issue 4

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.

Upcoming Events

You're invited!

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:; (919) 560-7675.

What: Collaborative Council meeting
When: Monday, November 21
6 – 8 PM

Stanford L. Warren Branch, Meeting Room 1
Durham County Public Library
1201 Fayetteville Street
Durham, NC 27707
Get directions here.

What: Collaborative Council meeting
When: Monday, December 19
6 – 8 PM

Stanford L. Warren Branch, Meeting Room 1
Durham County Public Library
1201 Fayetteville Street
Durham, NC 27707
Get directions here.

Staff Profile: Marcus Hawley

Marcus Hawley

Marcus Hawley (Photo: Allison Mathews)

What do the following three things have in common: (1) the participation of minorities in HIV clinical trials, (2) education in the Black community, and (3) men’s bowtie fashions? Give up? They all find a place in the mind of Marcus Hawley, a research assistant with the LinCS 2 Durham project at North Carolina Central University.

Marcus became interested in the occurrence of HIV in the Black community as an undergraduate at Hampton University in Virginia. “I took it upon myself to become more educated about HIV, so I became an HIV/AIDS instructor through the American Red Cross,” he says.

His interest in HIV/AIDS eventually brought him to a 2009 World AIDS Day event in Durham, where he first learned about LinCS 2 Durham. “That’s where I saw Randy Rogers—someone I knew from my job at the mall—who also happened to be the facilitator for the LinCS 2 Durham Collaborative Council,” he says. It was a good connection: Within a couple of months Marcus had joined the Collaborative Council as a member of the Durham community, and within a year he was a full-time member of the LinCS 2 Durham staff.

Since then Marcus has been involved in the LinCS 2 Durham community survey, which is attempting to understand the concerns and attitudes that the Black community has about HIV and HIV research. “The survey has been received pretty well in the community,” he says. “Since May 11, we have had 155 people complete the whole survey—it’s been pretty awesome.”

The success of the survey may be partly attributed to Marcus’s genial approach. “Participants come in to take the survey, and I try to make them feel comfortable, make them feel that they are part of the community and that this is very important work,” he says.

Marcus also keeps busy with outreach activities to promote community awareness about HIV and the LinCS 2 Durham project. “We had a fashion show in June with a local designer and other people in the community. We talked about HIV/AIDS to the audience. It was good—very well received,” he says.

Fashion is part of Marcus’s life outside of work too—he recently launched his own line of bowties. “I couldn’t find the kind of ties and bowties I wanted in the stores, so I started to make my own. When I wore them, people started asking me to make some for them. I realized that this might be a little side business.”

For the foreseeable future Marcus’s primary business will remain public health and reaching out to the Black community. “I want to continue my work on HIV/AIDS, but I also want to do some work on why minority students, especially males, are dropping out of school at so much higher rates than other ethnicities,” he says. “I really like working with communities—I think it’s pretty exciting.”

Point of View: Kendra M. Batten

LinCS 2 Durham welcomes the chance to share the views of participants in the initiative. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer.

Life Choices: Building a Foundation for Success

Kendra M. Batten

Kendra M. Batten (Photo:
   Natalie Eley)

As I prepare to apply to doctoral programs, I reflect on the process I went through a few years ago when I applied to a master's program. My days were filled with the preparation of applications, transcripts and on-campus interviews until I received that long-awaited letter of admissions that afforded me the opportunity to prepare myself academically for my desired career. After many term papers, long classes, exams, professional networking and a thesis, I was awarded a piece of paper, which stated that I was academically prepared to be a mental health professional.

My journey did not end there. The state of North Carolina requires additional exams as proof of competency for the mental health profession. Once again, I began preparing myself to take exams with even more long hours of study, vocabulary drills with my support network and practice tests. Finally, my desire to become a psychologist came to fruition as I have received my licensure and have the privilege to provide services to those in need.

My work as a licensed psychological associate has provided many opportunities to serve people from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The information I gather during a client interview allows me to assist with the procurement of services, but it also gives me a glimpse into someone's personal life. I've noticed that the wealthy and the poor are often confronted with the same struggles—unhealthy relationships, unstable employment and housing, mental health issues, medical issues, and so on.

Such difficulties, as well as others, can further exacerbate the client's inability to adjust, which perpetuates a pattern of distorted cognition, poor decision making and adverse outcomes. Their initial choices affected their options later in life, and slowly led them to their current predicament.

Becoming infected with HIV is a consequence of one's choices—whether direct or indirect—that significantly affects the individual and those around him or her. Regardless of how HIV may have been acquired, each person can choose to maintain or improve his or her quality of life. There are many opportunities to improve one's quality of life, such as choosing to comply with recommended medical advice, advocating for one's rights, and advocating for the rights of others affected by HIV.

We are all in a position to foster healthy lifestyles through constructive behaviors and careful attention to our physical health. Our example influences the next generation and their sense of how well they can control their health and other aspects of their lives. Let our lives build a bridge of success for future generations.

Kendra M. Batten, MA, LPA serves as a community member on the LinCS 2 Durham Collaborative Council.

Message from the Collaborative Council Facilitator

Randy Rogers, Collaborative Council Facilitator

Randy Rogers, Collaborative Council Facilitator (Photo: Lisa Albert)

Greetings! The past few months have been an exciting venture, watching the Collaborative Council (CC) make historic decisions about a potential funding opportunity and new compensation guidelines. The amount of effort, time and consideration that went into these decisions speaks to the pride the CC embodies and the level of responsibility they graciously assume to make informed decisions as a group.  Based on my observations, it is clear that the guiding principles that we established early on were embedded in their deliberations, and helped them to make thoughtful decisions and recommendations.

The CCWG (CC working group) has been exceptional—taking ideas, suggestions and constructive feedback from the CC and transforming them into responsive actions. This is evident in the development of the new compensation guidelines (an outline of how the project will acknowledge active CC members), in how they ensure regular and relevant updates from other working groups, and how they plan the monthly meetings to address the needs of the study and the CC. Also, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of our CC members who have been involved in the various working groups; your contributions are invaluable in making LinCS 2 Durham a worthwhile study that fosters cooperative learning among community members and social scientists.

As I've expressed before, community-based participatory research can be quite labor intensive—but the outcomes can be incredibly rewarding.


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.

HIV and Black America in the News

2011 Annual Legislative Conference of the 41st Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Thousands of Americans, elected officials, business and industry leaders gathered on September 21 to 24 for the 2011 Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) of the 41st Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington, D.C. The conference featured more than 80 workshops, seminars and forums on topics such as health and wellness, civic engagement and entrepreneurship. HIV/AIDS-related issues were an important part of the conference.

Also at the ALC, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), the National Action Network, I Choose Life Health and Wellness Center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus presented The Women’s Health Summit: “Harnessing Our Power: Mind, Body, and Soul.” The summit convened a special focus panel—“HIV/AIDS and African-American Women: The Forgotten Population”—which looked back on the thirty years of the pandemic.

According to the NCNW, AIDS still remains a devastating killer of Black women, yet they continue to be relegated to footnotes in national dialogues. The rate of new HIV infections for Black women is nearly 15 times as high as that of Caucasian women. HIV/AIDS-related conditions are now the leading cause of death for African-American women, ages 25 to 34 years.

Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus Launched
On September 15, five Members of Congress gathered outside the Capitol on Thursday to announce the formation of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan caucus, noting that it had 59 members as of its debut and it would be welcoming additional members in the weeks ahead.

Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) observed that there are some issues on which Members of Congress “can find great common ground” and HIV/AIDS was one of them. According to Franks and Congressman Jim McDermott (D-CA), the Caucus will work to maintain global leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the United States and around the world, and to galvanize new leadership in preparation for the International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C. in July, 2012.

Noting that several members of the Caucus were early advocates for a U.S. National AIDS StrategyMr. Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the White House Office of AIDS Policy, remarked “I look forward to working with the Caucus to seize this moment in time so we can say we made a difference in the epidemic.”

VOICE Trial Drops Oral Tenofovir from Study
On September 28, 2011, the VOICE HIV prevention trial announced that it will be dropping one of the oral tablets from the study. The VOICE trial is evaluating two antiretroviral (ARV)-based approaches for preventing the sexual transmission of HIV in women: the daily use of one of two different ARV tablets or the daily use of a vaginal gel.

The decision to discontinue the use of tenofovir tablets in VOICE comes after a routine review of study data concluded that the trial will not be able to demonstrate that tenofovir tablets are effective in preventing HIV in the women enrolled in the trial. VOICE will continue to test the safety and effectiveness of the other oral tablet, Truvada (a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine) and of the vaginal gel formulation of tenofovir. The independent reviewers identified no safety concerns with any of the products being studied in VOICE.

VOICE—Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic—involves 5,029 women at 15 trial sites in Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The trial is being conducted by the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), an HIV/AIDS clinical trials network.

Real Talk!

Be a part of the LinCS 2 Durham project
Join the conversation about ways to prevent the spread of HIV in Durham's Black communities. Please get in touch with Natalie Eley, the LinCS 2 Durham study coordinator, to request information about the project and find out how to participate.

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!

To reach Natalie, e-mail her at Or get in touch with Randy Rogers:; (919) 560-7675.

Join us online
Become a Facebook fan of LinCS 2 Durham! You can also follow us on Twitter. The LinCS 2 Durham Web site (where you can learn about the project's background, news, and events and find links to related resources) is here. The Collaborative Council's Web site (minutes of meetings, photo gallery, and a blog) is here.

Contribute to the LinCS 2 Durham newsletter
Our purpose with this newsletter is to keep you informed about the project's many activities and accomplishments. The newsletter is also a forum for information that isn't part of the project but related to it:

  • Articles from the news
  • Community events with an HIV message
  • Stories of the impact of HIV on you and your family, friends, and neighbors
  • Suggestions to improve support for people living with HIV and AIDS and their caregivers
  • Your ideas about ways to stop the spread of HIV in Durham

You deserve credit for your contributions to the newsletter. However, if you prefer to contribute confidentially, just let us know. In that case, we won't identify you as the source and we'll guard your anonymity.

The LinCS 2 Durham newsletter is a work in progress. We'd like to know what you think of it, so we can make it better.

E-mail us at

Connect with LinCS 2 Durham: