Principal Investigator: Dorie Gilbert, Ph.D.

Duration: 2009-2011

African Americans now account for over fifty percent of new HIV infections, although they represent only 12% of the U.S. population (Centers for Disease Control, 2007). Nationally, African American women account for 69% of new HIV diagnoses among women, and AIDS is the number one cause of death for African American women aged 25-34 years (CDC, 2007). Texas is the fourth leading state among HIV cases and in Austin-Travis County, African American women account for 54% of new HIV diagnoses while comprising a mere 4.5% of the city population. Locally, African American women account for 70% of combined newly diagnosed HIV and AIDS cases locally. Very little has been done to address this alarming health disparity in Austin-Travis County. Poverty, chemical dependency, lack of accessible healthcare, mistrust of medical and other institutions, institutionalized racism, and other related disparities have shaped the epidemic for African Americans.

This proposed project aims to establish an infrastructure for the long-term implementation of a culturally congruent, structural HIV intervention, the Healer Women Prevention (HWP) Project (Nobles, Goddard & Gilbert, 2009). The curriculum is comprised of 10 modules with eighteen teaching units delivered over 10 weeks. The outcome data from a 2-year study in Oakland, CA show significant change from pre-test to post-test in: Cognitive Realignment (i.e., increased self worth, less fatalism, increased sense of control over one’s life, increased ability to protect self from HIV); Cultural Restructuring (i.e., less depression; increased motivation, increased hopefulness about present and future quality of life); and Character Refinement (i.e. increased sense of health promotion, stronger intention to practice safe sex and reduction in risky sexual behavior).

The implementation consists of four components: 1) conduct Healer Women Training of Trainers to establish local facilitators; (2) implement two 10-week trials of the HWP Program; (3) evaluation; and (4) establishing long-term implementation of prevention program through coordination with community collaborators.

Central to the success of training and replication of the Healer Women prevention model in Austin/Travis County is a continuum of involvement across key African American empowerment networks (i.e., hair salons and barbershops, churches/faith-based institutions, Black neighborhood associations) and local HIV/AIDS organizations and the city/county health departments to penetrate the African American community. Ultimately, the goal is to establish a long-term infrastructure for sustained implementation of the HWP Project in the Austin/Travis County community.

Travis County Health and Human Services