Developing a Self-Care Campaign for HIV-Infected Women

Developing a Self-Care Campaign for HIV-Infected Women

December 1, 2009

Study Compares Web 2.0 v. In-Person Forums

Putting a community-driven health campaign together requires lots of work to mobilize community members to take part. Can that be done online? Or is this the sort of thing that must be done in-person? Answers to those questions can be found in a report, Community Mobilization for a Women’s Self-Care Health Promotion Campaign. The report examine a pilot study’s findings on differences in traditional in-person versus online meetings to develop a self-care health promotion campaign by women infected or affected by HIV infection.

The 14 participants in the pilot study were recruited from various Ryan White Part C and D grant programs in Newark. Over the study’s one and a half month time frame, the women developed various outreach activities or self-selected topics, particularly flyers and cards for dissemination in the community. Participants subsequently conducted outreach with 1,808 women on various self-care topics like nutrition, substance abuse, and HIV counseling and testing.

Deedee’s health outreach idea was to hand out a small information card to sex workers to urge them to seek out HIV testing in a mobile van. She wrote a poem on it and included information about where to get tested but feared her idea might not be “good enough.” It was. She got it in the hands of 50 women in the streets.

According to the report:

  • Women in the in-person group outreached to more women.
  • The cost of the in-person meeting was lower than support for the online group.
  • While the online meeting approach cost more, and resulted in less outreach (in comparison to the in-person group), there are many positive features of an online group that warrant its use in future self-care promotion efforts. For example, online groups provided more flexibility to participants but limited ability to interact face to face. In-person groups, on the other hand, provided valuable face to face time but also involved time and transportation barriers for attendees in attending sessions.

The report also presents summaries of the study participants and their outreach work. Deedee, for example, worked with sex workers to urge them to seek out HIV testing in a mobile van. Deedee was sheepish about her idea, wondering if it "was good enough." It was. She went on to develop a poem and had it printed on a small card to hand out to her target group—sex workers reportedly do not carry purses. The card also included information on where to get an HIV test. Deedee distributed 50 cards late at night or early in the morning, when she knew she would encounter the women before or after work. Deedee worked hard to make it happen, although the van failed to show up on one occasion at the assigned time.

The study was conducted by François-Xavier Bagnoud Center under a cooperative agreement with HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau.