P25 Creating the S.P.A.C.E (STI Prevention through Awareness, Capacity Building and Engagement) for Intimate Conversations on Sexuality

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Hyatt Exhibit Hall
Makeba D'Abreu, MDiv, Domestic Programs, The Balm In Gilead, Inc, Richmond, VA and Betty stephens, BBA, Director, Church/Community Mobilization, The Balm In Gilead, Richmond, VA

Background: In 2005, The Balm In Gilead launched Intimate Sessions for Informed Sexuality (ISIS) Project. The project uses the intersection of spiritual and sexual/reproductive health to educate African American women about cervical cancer, and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, new screening technologies, vaccines and prevention strategies. The goal of the project is for women to be empowered to act as agents to safeguard their health through initiating and engaging community conversation around HPV and cervical cancer

Objectives: To give an overview of the implementation of the ISIS Project, it’s successes and provide insight to the points for intersection of female's sexuality and spirituality and its role in STI prevention.

Methods: The Balm In Gilead engaged African-American Women, in over 10 major cities and 2 rural areas, in dialogue concerning HPV and Cervical Cancer using its Faith Community Mobilization Model. Noted female clergy and physicians co-facilitated one-session discussions in faith-based settings educating, empowering, and equipping with social skills training.

Results: Post workshop data indicates that 92.6% of attendees of the ISIS Project Tour acknowledged increased knowledge of HPV infection, screening and vaccines. Women of various age groups indicated an increase willingness to change behavior when shown the intersection of spirituality and sexuality. One spin off of the program was the institution of a peer education program.

Conclusions: The ISIS Tour raised awareness among African-American Women about HPV and Cervical Cancer. Participants demonstrated in the post survey increased knowledge about HPV and Cervical Cancer, along with motivation to alter personal behaviors and share information to help prevent the spread of HPV.

Implications for Programs, Policy, and Research: The incorporation sexuality and spirituality in faith-based settings is an important and holistic STI prevention strategy which targets African American women.