North Carolina: State University Researchers Help Gear HIV Message to Black, College-Age Women

Two North Carolina State University professors have received a $252,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create more effective HIV/AIDS education efforts for college-age African-American women.

"Here in the Southeast of the US, the prevention of HIV is not on the agenda," said James Kiwanuka-Tondo, an associate professor of communications. He and Fay Cobb Payton, an associate professor of information systems, set out to target black, college-age women after noticing a lack of culturally relevant prevention messages aimed at this group.

As part of the effort, focus groups are being conducted, and HIV prevention messages geared toward young black women are being analyzed. The team's findings will be used to develop social media outreach and other strategies.

Katie Horstman, a social worker at Wake County Human Services, said most HIV-positive African-American women she has worked with are being infected in ways that could have been prevented. Payton and Kiwanuka-Tondo's research could prove helpful for the peer educators the county employs to conduct prevention outreach, said Yvonne Torres, HIV and STD program manager for WCHS.

Naisha Brown, a doctoral student at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's School of Public Health who coordinates a program at Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh, also has noted the growing trend of HIV among young African-American women. She supports the NCSU effort as long as the messages developed are true to these women's voices and avoid reinforcing stigmas and stereotypes.