NCNW Event Raises HIV/AIDS Awareness
By Funke Oyelade
The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) held an event called “Save Ourselves Sisters” to raise awareness about what HIV/AIDS on Oct. 23 in the Special Collections Room of The Thurgood Marshall Library. The event was designed to teach women how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS.
To illustrate the point, organizers played two games: one to test people’s knowledge about the virus and the other to show how quickly the virus could spread. Discussions ranged from sex, society, stereotypes and the image of the African-American woman.
The event started off with a poem called “My sister my sister” by Emilie Jackson. Next, white index cards were given to more than 20 attendees. Each attendee wrote two truths and one lie about themselves.
Then they were given post-it notes to write, separately, three things they have heard about HIV/AIDS, whether true or false. Afterward, the crowd was divided into groups by counts of three and placed in three stations.
In the stations, posters with the words agree, disagree and don’t know were written. Each group had to place the post-it notes, about what people heard about HIV/AIDS, on the poster based on whether or not they agree with that was written. The game allowed for myths concerning the virus to be debunked and to empower women and men with facts. Questions were answered by NCNW members.
The second game had people write their name down on various colored index cards and switch with others in the room. The rule was to switch cards until they no longer had their name.
Once everyone finished exchanging cards, people were called to say the names of the people that they had on their cards. “If we were to continue to have each person in the room call out names, everyone in this room would be standing.” The object of the game was to show how fast the virus could spread and illustrate the statistic that one out of four people have HIV/AIDS.Later on, organizers played the video “Many women, One voice,” which documents the lives of African-American women with HIV. One woman in the video did not find out her status until she decided to get tested while pregnant. Another woman contracted the virus from a man with whom she was in a relationship.
Each person in the room became quiet when a woman in the video stated that she was no different from any woman who was watching the documentary. The only difference was that she was on one end with HIV while they are on the other end --- for the moment.
The video opened a second heart-felt discussion about how a person could catch the virus through unprotected intercourse, intravenous drug use and blood transfusions. Audience members also discussed how to prevent the likelihood of catching the virus through abstinence, condoms, regular status checkups and practicing safe oral sex.
Almost every person in the room was shocked that one out of 30 African-American women is HIV positive.
The next video was about Sarah Baartman, a young South African woman who that went to Europe to find riches and fame only to be abused, humiliated and used for entertainment. The video dealt with the image of African-American women in society and how it affects them.
The event drew to a close with talk about society’s role in how sex and HIV/AIDS are viewed, the distribution of packets filled with facts on HIV/AIDS, and a circle with each attendee holding another’s hand and bonding not through being college students or African-American, but as a family.