December 03, 2012
On Saturday, December 1, 2012, the @myHealthImpact team celebrated World's AIDS Day by participating in the 4th Annual Red Pump/Red Tie Affair in Charlotte, NC. The event was a huge success that included a silent auction and fashion show to raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. Everyone, near and far stepped out and showed off their favorite red accessories: pumps, bow ties, cuff links, earrings, belts, etc. It was truly amazing to see people of all cultures come together and support the push for an AIDS Free Generation.
With so many displays of the color red, immediately my mind flashed the question, "What ever happened to PRODUCT (RED)?" It was only six years ago when I saw the first Apple commercial promoting a (RED) iPod Nano, that I learned about the charity's global fight against AIDS. Soon after, other brands such as The Coco-Cola Company, Nike, Starbucks, and the American Express would join U2 frontman and activist, Bono, to sell (RED) products.
Now that I am also an HIV Activist, I would like to continue The (RED) Manifesto, which is to be part of the organization that delivers an AIDS Free Generation.
"We all have tremendous power. What we choose to do or buy, can affect someone's life on the other side of the world. When you do the (RED) thing, a (RED) partner will give up some of its profits to fight AIDS. It's as simple as that. (JoinRED)."
LEAVE A COMMENT: What are your favorite (RED) products!?
November 26, 2012
I hope all of our readers enjoyed their Thanksgiving Holiday and spending time with their loved ones. As December hastily approaches, we can expect the usual holiday shuffle of family, food and gifts, but there is one day that may not be on your calendar yet…
December 1, 2012 is World Aids Day, a day to remember those who have fallen to HIV/AIDS, as well as providing support for the people who are living and fighting it daily. The day is our chance to spread awareness to people who may not know how AIDS is transmitted, or how prevalent it is in our communities, or that together we can fight it and continue to live fulfilling lives.
On World Aids Day (for today’s readers is this Saturday), you can show your support by spreading the facts about HIV, many of which are posted here. Send out a tweet, post it on Facebook, take pictures for Instagram, however you reach out just touch someone with the knowledge that can save a life! Also you can wear a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness. It is a great time to raise money for an organization of your choice, such as the Balm in Gilead or Alliance of AIDS Services.
If you choose to participate in Worlds Aids Day (and you should), feel free to send out a tweet that mentions @myHealthImpact, or a link to our site to help get the word out about our fight against HIV!
November 19, 2012
In last week’s blog post, Khalia mentioned the aspiration for her writing, and in part, it was the annual BET “Black Girls Rock” program. Alicia Keys was honored as one sister that rocked not only as an artist but for her philanthropic work with Keep A Child Alive, an organization that makes AIDS medication available to young people in Africa and Asia.
As I read last week’s blog, I reflected on other black girls that rocked by offering both spirited lyrics but offered social consciousness as Alicia Keys. This consciousness comes from many personal points of references, but Quincy Jones on his 1989 Back on the Block CD poetically spoke with Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Tevin Campbell and Andrae Crouch Singers that “The rappers rap is here to stay…”. A few years earlier, Prince released his Sign O’ the Times CD and a fusion of soul, rock, funk and rap single by the same name. In Sign O’ the Times, he tells his listeners that:
In France, a skinny man dies of big disease with a little name; by chance his girlfriend came across a needle and soon she did the same…
Hence, he alludes to two transmission modes for HIV: sex and needle sharing.
So, who are the “sisters” who rocked in my day? These are artists who offered thought provoking messages of sexual health, social justice consciousness and, yes even HIV awareness. First up is Ms. Jackson. Janet, that is. The Rhythm Nation 1814 CD packed powerful bass lines with social conscious lyrics and video clips of China’s Tiananmen Square. The lead song, Rhythm Nation, states:
With music by our side
To break the color lines
Let's work together
To improve our way of life
Join voices in protest
To social injustice
A generation full of courage
Come forth with me
People of the world today
Are we looking for a
better way of life
We are a part of the rhythm nation
But…it was Ms. Jackson’s 1997 Together Again single that has been viewed by some as an upbeat tribute to those who have been passed away due to complications associated with AIDS. In Together Again, she wrote:
Dream about us together again; When I want us together again baby, I know we'll be together again 'cause….Everywhere I go…Every smile. I see--I know you are there…Smilin' back at me
Next up is Salt-N-Papa! Who could forget their “Push It” or “Whatta Man”. It was, however, the group’s 1991 single, “Let’s Talk About Sex”, that directly communicated the consequences of risky sexual behaviors. The closed, often tapped mouths in the single’s video represents lack of communication and stigma. Check out the lyrics:
Let's talk about sex for now to the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don't decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
Cuz that ain't gonna stop it
Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let's tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
An alternate version of the song entitled "Let's Talk About AIDS" was released to radio on a promotional single and included as a b-side on various singles for the song. The lyrics were changed to more directly address the spread of AIDS and HIV .
Last but least, TLC…Chilli, Left Eye and T-Boz! From its beginning, TLC redefined the norm and created its own. TLC’s “Chasing Waterfalls” talked about people chasing dreams without regard to consequences including casual sex :
Little precious has a nat'ral obsession for temptation,
but he just can't see.
She give him loving that his body can't handle,
but all he can say is, "Baby, it's good to me."
One day he goes and takes a glimpse in the mirror,
but he doesn't recognize his own face.
His health is fading and he doesn't know why.
Three letters took him to his final resting place.
Y'all don't hear me.
Don't go chasing waterfalls.
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all,
but I think you're moving too fast.
Here is to Janet Jackson, Salt-N-Pepa and TLC for being black girls who rocked. Follow us @myhealthimpact and www.myhealthimpactnetwork.org. Tell us the musicians and others (male or female) who rock HIV/AIDS awareness in the community via your tweets and blog comments.
November 12, 2012
Considering the fact that I am a DJ, it was only a matter of time before I decided to write a blog post about music. Last Sunday, I tuned in to BET’s annual “Black Girls Rock” and I was excited to watch, as Black women were uplifted for doing great things in our community. Alicia Keys was one of the women honored that night and her philanthropic efforts for her organization Keep a Child Alive was a major highlight. Keys is a co-founder and ambassador of Keep A Child Alive, a people’s movement that provides life-saving AIDS medicine and surrounding care to children and families in Africa and India .
While watching the tribute to Keys, I began to think about R&B and Rap songs that I have heard mentioning HIV/AIDS. I could not recall many, but I was not surprised since HIV/AIDS is such a taboo subject in our community.
Kanye West stuck out first since he’s my favorite rapper of all time. On West’s sophomore album Late Registration he has a song titled “Roses”. If you have not heard this song before (the video link is below), I will tell you that West is upset throughout the entire song because he wants someone in the hospital to help his grandmother who is currently unconscious. In the first verse West says:
“If Magic Johnson got a cure for AIDS
And all the broke people pass away
You tellin’ me if my grandma was in the NBA
Right now she would be ok?”
While West used this line in a metaphorical sense, it still made me think twice about how expensive it is to access medication for AIDS. For a second, I really did think that if you could not afford the medication that you would in fact die and since Magic Johnson was extremely rich, that is the only reason why he is able to live healthy with such a critical disease. Working with this project I have learned that this is in fact false; however, it is interesting to see how an artist was able use a song about his grandmother to paint a picture about the economic hardship that buying medicine for HIV/AIDS can cause.
Rapper T-Pain has a very thought provoking skit and song on his sophomore album Epiphany titled “I Got It” (skit) and “Suicide”. “I Got It” is a conversation between a guy and his girlfriend when she tells him they are both effected with HIV. The woman did not know the best way to tell her boyfriend that they were infected, but she eventually was able to tell him. As one could imagine, he was not very receptive to the news. In fact, he blamed her and asked ‘what were you thinking’ as if she was the only one to blame. I will save the analysis of this skit for another post, but “Suicide”, which follows this skit, is about the guy planning to kill himself as a result of the news.
I must say that I was surprised that T-Pain would write a skit about such a touchy subject, especially with the song “Suicide” following it. In my opinion, this was a very daring move by T-Pain. This was only his sophomore album, which is very important for new artists so that they will not hit the ‘sophomore slump’ (an instance in which a second effort fails to live up to the standards of the first effort) . His listeners could have assumed that this situation happened to him since his first single was titled “I’m In Love With A Stripper” and his first single off of Epiphany was “Buy You A Drank”, both talking about risky behaviors.
To date, the Epiphany album has sold 1.5million copies, and to my knowledge, no one has accused T-Pain of having HIV/AIDS, so writing these songs were a risk worth taking; but I wonder, out of those 1.5million people who bought this album, how many of them paid this skit and this song any attention? I definitely commend T-Pain for his efforts at exposing a disease that is so common in our community through his music. Hopefully, like Keys, he will become an ambassador of HIV/AIDS and help bring awareness and fight for support for those in need.
For years, music has been able to bring awareness to what’s going on in our society, by catching our ears with a beat first, and delivering a message later. How often do you gain a message out of a song that is not a gospel song? Do you think it is effective to use music in order to increase social awareness? Give us feedback and let us know. @myhealthimpact
Other songs mentioning HIV/AIDS:
Killa Mike & Big Boi - “ADIDAS”
“When I drill, I don’t spill, even if she’s on the pill
Keep my weapon covered, concealed, and in a shield
Cause I don’t need that A-I-D-S
A D and an A missin’ out my ADIDAS”
Trey Songz - “Store Run”
“I ain’t ready to have no babies
No ifs, ands, buts, or maybes
I’m tryna keep it safe
Girl ain’t you heard of AIDS?”
TLC - "Waterfalls"
One day he goes and takes a glimpse in the mirror
But he doesn't recognize his own face
His health is fading and he doesn't know why
3 letters took him to his final resting place
Y'all don't hear me
Kanye West “Roses”
T-Pain “I Got It”
November 05, 2012
Many companies have reconsidered their mobile marketing strategies with the sudden burst in the app evolution. Included in this phenomenon is the accelerated growth of health and fitness apps used by consumers on today's top mobile platforms. The following are apps currently available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store: cardio fitness, diet tracker, stress check, mental health, sleep cycle, and recipe builder just to name a few. What was once a deprecated business model has now helped connect consumers with their physicians and challenged them to live a healthier lifestyle.
How likely are you to use a mobile application for virtual medical advice?
1)How likely are you to use a mobile application for virtual medical advice?
October 30, 2012
My trip to Phoenix with my research team was an exciting and eye opening event. I got to experience the business trip on an academic level, and admittedly I enjoyed telling my friends and classmates, “I’m going to Arizona to present at an international conference.” My appreciation for the entire event was refined from our arrival in the desert until our withdrawal from the Valley of the Sun.
First of all, when we pulled up at the hotel in Phoenix I felt like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air! And looking out onto the city and off into the mountains of the west was truly a sight to behold. I began to consider what life would be like if I were to move to out there, but I digress…
In the morning we attended the main event, our presentations at the Informs 2012 conference. Initially, I was apprehensive about going all the way out to Arizona to present the myHIN project to a room full of scholars and research gurus. But I discovered that my audience was thirsty for information, and when we finished they had positive feedback on ways to advance the project and increase effectiveness. It created a much different atmosphere than a sales pitch where your audience may pick you apart over the company budget. In the end I was honored to be the direct link in disseminating HIV awareness information and I believe we made a positive impact. I’m looking forward to the next conference and also having my research published!
October 22, 2012
On Tuesday, October 16th, the myHIN research team set forth to Phoenix, AZ for the INFORMS 2012 Annual Meeting. The research scholars discussed “Lessons Learned: Designing an IT Artifact While Creating a Health Experience”. We covered the myHIN social media integration, tracking the social mushroom, and branding the user experience. It was important for us to communicate to the audience what our strategy is for driving this project using social media.
As a Research Scholar, I was extremely excited to be able to share with attendees the hard work our team has put in for the past year to bring this project to life. I have to admit, I was very nervous since this was my first research conference and I’m just an undergraduate student; however, this experience showed me that through this project, our efforts will be able to impact people all over the world. INFORMS is an international conference, which brings an audience from all over the world. To be able to share with attendees the issues going on in America and to show them how we are trying to combat these issues makes me realize how important this project is.
I believe in the power of networking whether it’s through social media or word of mouth and my hope is that through this conference, someone will become more knowledgeable of the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on black females, spread the word about it, and join us in promoting awareness. Follow us on Twitter @myhealthimpact. Share your tweets and blog comments.
October 15, 2012
“Nothing exists in isolation. Design divorced from the context in which the product is used is of little value to its audience. Cognitively, this makes sense—most designers agree that they have to consider the environment, culture, and situation as part of the process of developing a new product (or redesigning an old one). But practically, context and culture get little play in design meetings.” Olga Werby 
As a human-computer interaction (HCI) design researcher exploring means by which interactive technologies can be used to help people make better decisions about their health and wellness, especially their sexual health and wellness , I continually grapple with the context question. Discerning and then actioning the many questions is not easy and why I would offer context is often underappreciated in design.
With MyHealthImpactNetwork (myHIN), as a platform for discovery, I feel that we have a unique opportunity to begin understand what those relevant contextual considerations are. Not only uncovering what those specific considerations with respect to deployments such myHIN, but investigating the mechanisms, inclusive of design tools and techniques, that could 1. Tease out these considerations and 2. Support in the translation of those insights into design.
I had the opportunity to spend time with Sean Howell in San Francisco a couple weeks ago. Sean is the founder of Hornet . Hornet is a gay mobile social networking and dating application. One of the unique features of Hornet is the integration of the “Know Your Status” (KYS) campaign that encourages users to disclose their HIV status and keep it current. As Sean is employing this more novel means to encourage behavioral change – regular HIV testing – through a social media platform, I wanted to get his reaction on our efforts at myHIN.
One of the comments that Sean made was: Could myHIN be even be more impactful by putting sexual health decisioning within a greater context and tell a more compelling story around the intended behavioral change? So, what are the implications of these findings to the design of behavioral interventions such as myHIN? Should we abandon targeted behavioral approaches and solely focus on encouraging our constituency, Black female college students, to complete their degree programs? I don’t think so. As the authors detail, there remains and a need for targeted behavioral based approaches; however, more “contextually” grounded behavioral approaches.
I am excited about our work here at myHIN. We not only are creating a platform that 1. Demonstrates how interactive technologies can be more responsively designed in helping individuals make better decisions about their health and wellness and 2. Offers a research test bed for affording explorations in understanding and discerning that elusive yet vital consideration in design, context. We are truly embarking on an exciting journey. I welcome your comments and/or feedback.
Yours in the cause,
 Winchester, W.W., Able, T., & Bauermeister, J. (2012). The use of partner-seeking computer-mediated communication applications by young men that have sex with men (YMSM): uncovering human-computer interaction (HCI) design opportunities in HIV prevention. Health Systems. doi: 10.1057/hs.2012.3.
 Shen, S-T, Woolley, M., & Prior, S. (2006). Towards culture-centred design. Interacting with Computers, 18(4), 820-852.
October 08, 2012
The term “Black Church” is used as a sociological and theological reference to the pluralism of black Christian churches in the US (Lincoln and Mamiya, 1990). Seven denominations account for 80% of the black religious affiliations in the US. In total there are approximately 75 thousand black churches that account for 25 million members (Billingsley and Caldwell, 1994).
The Black Church has been described as a mediating institution that operates in two realms of actuality – providing both spiritual and social needs, the privatistic and communal orientations. “The communal orientation refers to the historic tradition of the Black Church being involved in all aspects of the lives of their members, including political, economic, educational and social concerns. Conversely, the privatistic orientation – preaching, praying and singing – is concerned with only the spiritual needs of its members” (Lincoln and Mamiya, 1990).
Some question, Is the Black Church dead? I think this question ignores the historical role this institution has played in advancing the social, political and spiritual lives of black Americans, especially during the civil rights era. For me, a more useful discussion centers on respecting these contributions from the past, pointing out contemporary societal ills where the Black Church has been silent, and then developing a progressive agenda for redressing these problems.
In this article, I focus solely on the communal orientation and briefly describe the Black Church’s shift from silence to leadership in the fight against HIV. The Black Church has a long history of providing self-help, facilitating social change, and fostering social cohesion (Frazier, 1964; Du Bois, 1967; Lincoln and Mamiya, 1990; Billingsley, 1999). During the Antebellum period, for instance, social cohesion was severely hampered by legislation and social practices that denied slaves the rights to gather, learn, and communicate. Barred from social gatherings, slaves erected secret churches in the forests. These “invisible institutions” represented the first coherent and stable forms of social interaction for African Americans (Du Bois, 1967). During the period of Reconstruction, Black Churches were instrumental in creating mutual aid societies, benevolent societies and schools. In the 1960s, the works of civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Leon Sullivan represent the most widely acknowledged interdenominational accomplishments of the Black Church (Lincoln, 1974). Contemporary Black Churches are still healthy and vibrant institutions that address many societal ills such as unemployment, drug abuse and crime that plague urban communities (Billingsley and Caldwell, 1994). (For more on the history of the Black Church, listen to the NPR podcast.)
HIV/AIDS, however, is one societal ill that had been largely ignored by the Black Church. For instance, in the ABC New Special “AIDS in Black America” which aired on August 24, 2006 , former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond noted that for the past 25 year no prominent Black leader has made AIDS a priority. According to Reverend Calvin Butts III, “The one voice that continues to be prominent and powerful in the African American community is the church”, yet the church hasn’t done enough to address AIDS. Reverend TD Jakes preaches in front of tens of thousands of people, but did not discuss HIV/AIDS. Jakes notes that there are no biblical scriptures or training at universities to guide clergy on how to address AIDS.
However, even back in 2006, pioneering clergy like Reverend Eugene Rivers did preach about AIDS and other social issues such as gangs and drugs in his small ministry in one of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods. “I see the Black church as being challenged as never before to have some tough conversations. These tough, Black conversations are going to happen because the Black church doesn’t have an option. Because the Black churches are all that Black people have left…The conspiracy of silence on this sexual, moral, and cultural crisis is suicidal.” Rivers saw a fatal intersection between the silence of Black leaders and a popular culture supported by both Blacks and Whites that is full of images of risky sexual behavior. “We’ve got a culture that celebrates ignorance and promiscuity and consumerism and the bling-bling. We’ve got a cultural crisis. We have turned the celebration of misogyny, middle range pornography masquerading as hip-hop into a mainstream industry. And this is something the Black community did... And a Black political leadership class bereft of vision, intellectual direction and a clear moral compass now has failed their children.”
Today Black leaders—ranging from the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond to Bishop T.D. Jakes and President Barack Obama—have taken public HIV tests, in an effort to encourage their constituents to do the same. They have also charged the Black Church and Black political organizations like the Urban League, NAACP, and Rainbow Coalition to use their influence to take on AIDS. Together, they have developed the Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative to mitigate the effects of HIV in Black communities. Please take a few minutes to visit their website, bookmark it for future reference, and pass along the link to others. While you’re there, don’t forget to download a copy of the HIV infographic. The statistics are staggering, but don’t let this scare you away from obtaining crucially important information for keeping yourself healthy. Open your eyes, your mind and your heart as you read. This will enhance your ability to be non-judgmental and to have compassion for friend, family and loved ones living with HIV and AIDS.
Billingsley, A. (1999) Mighty Like a River: The Black Church and Social Reform. New York: Oxford University Press.
Billingsley, A. and C. Caldwell (1994) 'The Social Relevance of the Contemporary Black Church'. National Journal of Sociology 8(1): 1-23.
Du Bois, W.E.B. (1967) The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. New York: Schocken Books.
Frazier, E. (1964) The Negro Church in America. New York: Schocken Books.
Lincoln, C. (1974) The Black Church Since Frazier. New York: Schocken Books.
Lincoln, C. and L. Mamiya. (1990) The Black Church in the African-American Experience. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Portions of this paper are excerpted from my published papers:
Kvasny, L. and Lee, R. (2009). "The Paradoxical Consequences of White House Faith-Based and Community Initiative for Black Churches", New Media and Society, Vol. 11, No. 8, pp. 1-20.
Kvasny, L. and Igwe, F. (2008). "An African-American Weblog Community's Reading of AIDS in Black America", Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 569-592.
The entire broadcast is available in six segments on YouTube:
October 01, 2012
Many college and high school students seem to be afraid to mention the words and are often times forgetful of the impact that it has had in the African American Community. On September 7th 2012 the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. hosted an HIV and AIDS awareness program. The purpose of this program was to educate college students on the statistics and hard facts about the deadly virus and disease in our community.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has an initiative, Project Alpha, in which the brothers of this fraternity educate high school students on the risk of unprotected sex in relations to pregnancy and STDs. As college students, the fraternity felt like it was needed to provide this information to the students on campus. The lecture by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton was very effective and provided the appropriate information needed to address the miseducation that individuals have about HIV and AIDS. We decided to take action forward by providing a mobile testing site on campus which reduced the time and hassle for students to get tested at the clinic or a local physician. It is very important that we know our status for we can help stop the spread of the virus.
The brothers of the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. would like to extend a special thank you to myHealthImpact for its assistance and we look forward to working with them in the future to continue to spread the education of HIV and AIDS. Give them a shout out @myhealthimpact on Twitter.
In Partnership with: National Science Foundation