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by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

September 26, 2012

Elton John: 30 Years Later…

The 19th Annual International AIDS Conference took place in Washington, D.C. in July 2012.  Elton John offered his views on where we are 30 years into the disease. 

John said the way to move forward is by combining talents, knowledge and technical abilities to get the message out about AIDS, such as communicating through social media, though he acknowledged not knowing how to use Twitter.

Let us hear from you about our effort to do just as Elton John suggested. 

Follow us @myhealthimpact on Twitter.  Send your tweets, post comments to this and other blog posts.  


by KaMar Galloway

September 18, 2012

Why am I involved?

That is a question I was recently asked and quite frankly couldn't directly answer. I immediately thought my answer would be "I’m involved for the purpose of spreading HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention strategies to African-American females seeking answers to their health concerns." Although my response sounded decent, I still pondered that same question throughout the day. It wasn't until I got home later that night and watched Apple unveil its latest smartphone that everything clicked. As an avid fan of technology and lover of anything made by Apple, I realized how my obsession for simplicity and design drove my involvement with @myhealthimpact

I was not only brought in to build a website and integrate it with social media but rather to create an unforgettable user experience. After hosting several focus groups, I observed countless individuals failing to gain their desired results from the search engine. It really got under my skin because I couldn't understand how something as trivial as finding health information or health news could be so convoluted. All of the sites I visited contained text heavy graphics and disastrous workflows. It seemed as if the content developers did not want users to understand their work. The confusion and disappointment across the faces of our participants led me to rethink how I would properly brand health news for an evolving generation.

My team and I sat down to discuss what aspects of health news aggregation our users wanted and decided to focus on building a community that drove user interactivity. We wanted to plug today’s top social media platforms into our web infrastructure and conduct polls to track our user engagement. This also included the ability to work with other organizations, HIV activists, bloggers, and researchers to partner on various campaigns and contests.

After much iteration of design prototypes, we were finally able to settle on what we think is the most visually interactive health site on the web today. To piggy back that point, the assortment of colors and patterns we selected for the website were for the sole purpose of being able to identify with our target audience which were African-American females. It brings me so much joy to see the results of critical thinking as my research team and I worked on improving HIV/AIDS awareness on the web now and for the future.


by Khalia Braswell

September 10, 2012

“You Ain’t Crazy: It’s Your Mental Health!”

On Thursday, August 30th, Dr. Payton gave a presentation on campus titled ‘You Ain’t Crazy: It’s Your Mental Health’ where she discussed mental health issues in the African-American community. What stuck out to me the most was the video she showed featuring Terrie Williams where she talks about her book “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting”. Williams talks about how people think they are the only one who is going through something so they keep things bottled in and suffer from depression, hyper tension, and heart disease; or it will come out through self-medicating, gambling, sex, risk behaviors, etc. Risk behaviors can only increase the chance of being exposed to HIV.

For some strange reason, in our community, when we are suffering from something such as depression, we don’t go and get help. Instead, we turn to a friend who ends up giving us bad advice or just decide to seek a spiritual source to resolve our problems. While I am not knocking the latter, sometimes it is good to keep mental and spiritual health issues separate. Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience.

Last semester I had things going on with my family that I had never experienced before and I didn’t have time to react properly. I used my school and extra-curricular activities as a way to block everything out until one day it caught up with me. I literally woke up crying. I didn’t go to class that morning (which added to my stress) and I reached out to one of my sorority sisters who I am close with. Having experienced depression before, she forced me to go to the University Health Center to seek counseling. I was skeptical at first, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone who was a professional. I went to the Health Center and was told that I needed to set up an appointment. I was upset because I didn’t want to wait to talk to someone in seven days; I needed someone at that moment. I was afraid that my natural habit of pushing things away would hinder me from receiving proper help. In any case, I set the appointment and returned a week later. Unfortunately, the counselor was not helpful, but I was proud of myself for taking the initial step.

When I told certain people in my family that I went to see a counselor their response was ‘what do you need to do that for?’. I responded ‘to make sure I don’t go crazy!’. I also told them that I wanted to find another counselor and begin seeing them regularly, again they asked ‘what do you need to do that for?’. I believe that counseling can help you receive an unbiased opinion on how you should move forward. A counselor does not give you advice based on experience. They give you advice based on clinical research that can help you control your reaction to events that you can’t control. Can you control risk behaviors?

If you’re reading this and you have something that you are dealing with, seek help. More than likely you are not alone in the matter. If you need motivation, watch the video below featuring Terry Williams who also gives her personal testimony about battling with depression.

For up-to-date information, follow @myhealthimpact on Twitter! 


by Jeremy Currence

September 02, 2012

The Test You Can’t Study For

I went to the doctors office a couple weeks ago with nasal congestion, and she gave me a pat on the back and recommended some Sudafed. Then she asked, "Is there anything else I can do?" I thought for a second and responded, "Yes, I'd like an HIV test."

Motivated by my team's research and the myHealthImpact project, I got a blood sample taken from my arm to be tested for HIV. The process was pretty simple, and I realized that the older I get the less the interveinal needles hurt. The nurse sterilized my skin with a wipe, inserted the needle and 20 seconds later she said "I'll call you with the results." Wow… That was the easy part. 

Now in the next 10 days my life was hanging in the balance; I'm waiting  on a call that can change my life, or put my mind at ease about the state of my body. My mind would wander to some of the sexual rendezvous from my early college years and my confidence began to waiver. During that nerve-racking week, I realized that the change in my life occurs during those moments of intimacy more than when I receive these results. I decided that regardless of the status in the end, I'm not looking forward to being this uncertain any time soon.

Receiving my results was a moment of relief, when I knew for sure that I was HIV negative. It strengthened my ability to abstain from having sex, and allowed me to be grateful for everything I have been through over the years. Now that I know better, I can do better.

I finally understand why some people may not want to get tested, but I must also implore my peers and you, the reader to get tested when you have the chance. The knowledge is key to your survival, and that information can undoubtedly be life-changing.


by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

August 16, 2012

Poll: Social Media, The Web, and Health Care Information

How likely are you to use social media and the Web to find health care information?


1)How likely are you to use social media and the Web to find health care information?

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by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

August 15, 2012

Prevention is the Focus for Us

I recently attended a conference in San Francisco.  Much of the conference focused on mobile and interface design, and my session focused on health care and technology services in underserved communities.

I presented on my work on myHealthImpactNetwork, and the team’s goal to get the word out about HIV/AIDS among the young people, particularly Black female college students.

Prevention…prevention…prevention is the focus for us, and the young people are involved and engaged in this project!  I am delighted to see this happen.  After one conference session, I took a brisk walk to get some fresh air.

Always looking up, I spotted the sign below from clearly stating that San Francisco is greater than AIDS!  I text this to my research scholars, and Khalia indicated that she noticed the same signs in Washington, D.C.  She noticed!



by Kamar Galloway

August 03, 2012

Magic Johnson “The Announcement”

In ESPN Films: ‘The Announcement”, filmmaker Nelson George teamed up with NBA Entertainment to chronicle former NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson personal journey nearly two decades after his sudden retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers.

It was on Thursday, November 7, 1991, that “Magic” Johnson’s press conference would change the landscape of the AIDS epidemic in America as it was widely seen as a death sentence. Despite the tragic news, Magic went on to defy the odds, not just surviving, but truly living and prospering.


by Jeremy Currence

August 03, 2012

ENDGAME: AIDs in Black America

Word Cloud/Map Produced July 17, 2012
Generated by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton for 
ENDGAME Comments & Meaning For Students by Students

  • PBS recently aired a FRONTLINE episode called “ENDGAME: AIDs in Black America”, a two-hour special about how AIDs has affected black people in America, and also what is being done to combat the growing popularity of the disease. Here are some key takeaways from the broadcast:
  • AIDs began to spread through crack related sex work in the 80's. Also, jail inmates have were having unprotected sex & going back to the community, making jails a place for the disease to spread through homosexual behavior
  • The number of new HIV cases around the world has dropped year by year, but recently in America the number is rising
  • Today, 45 percent of all new cases in US are in the South
  • When Magic Johnson contracted HIV, men and women in America began to realize that it was a real disease
  • During his presidency, George W. Bush funded 15 billion dollars over 5 years to Africa & the Caribbean (the largest investment into a single health issue at the time), but not for America
  • Women often think "I'm selective w/ the men I date. I'm clean. It won't happen to me." But it does. And these stories show how it can.
  • Many high schools have sex-education, but they only advocate abstinence and not condom use or safe sex. ENDGAME quotes a teacher saying, "For students who are already sexually active, abstinence only education has nothing to offer."
  • If Black America were a country, it would be 16th worst in the world with AIDs," a quote from Dr. Phill Wilson, Founder and Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute and member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS,

by Khalia Braswell

May 31, 2012

My Health Impact Network

Did You Know?

Did you know that the estimated rate of new HIV infections among African-American women was 15 times that of white women and over three times that of Latina women? Shocking right? Did you know that HIV/AIDs is rapidly spreading amongst African-American college women? When I heard this, I was astounded!

It was these alarming facts that made me want to become apart of this research project. It is important to me because it impacts African-American college women. HIV/AIDs is spreading amongst our community and those who are being affected are not informed. I am excited to be able to use knowledge gained through coursework and experience to contribute to this project.

Our Goals

Our goal is to use social media to attract african-american college women and provide them with information about HIV/AIDS prevention. As black women, we have to take control of our bodies. We can start by becoming informed about the diseases that are common for our population and spread the information.

I hope that through this blog, we can communicate to college women all over the country and provide insight about what is going on in our community. Please do not hesitate to comment with any feedback or questions that you have about the project.


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In Partnership with: National Science Foundation