ABWW Heroines of the Day: South Florida SISTAS take AIDS Protection in Their own Hands

The idea that black women are aggressively sexually wanton has been circulated in America since slavery. The truth is that many black women do not have the skill to negotiate their sexual behavior or fear loosing their partner if they do not give in to risky sexual behavior. In South Florida a group of committed black women are working to change these behaviors.

”When wishing won’t, work will”
Originally posted 7/14/201 by Yolanda Reed The Westside Gazette

On June 15, 2010, Broward House’s SISTA Program, (Sisters Informing Sisters about Topics on AIDS), held their annual Booster Bash inside the Delevoe Park Conference Room. Over 70 women, men and children participated in this beautiful celebration. Led by Patricia Fleurinord and Mychell Stoakley under the direction of James Hill, the bash exemplified the unity and good times that are had during the SISTA sessions. From the prayer and welcome, given by Belinda Knox and Christine Williams, to the Spoken Word by Butterfly Vaughn, to the closing remarks by James Hill, a good time was had by all.

Speakers at the event included Commissioner Carlton Moore, Seth Leverence of Commcare Pharmacy and Dr. Kimberly Holding of BCHD. Com-missioner Moore expounded the virtues of hard work. He attributed his success to his mother and her teachings on the five W’s: ”When wishing won’t, work will.” Commissioner Moore advised the women to apply the five W’s in their lives and success would surely follow.

Congratulating the women on their desire to educate them-selves about HIV and being proactive in the management of their health and lives was the message of the hour. Dr. Kimberly Holding, an infectious disease specialist with the Bro-ward County Health Department, Paul Hughes Center, encouraged those in attendance the way only Dr. Holding can. She spoke of growing up in New Jersey with a working class family and the struggles she endured. She inspired the audience with her acronym of SISTA and celebrated the women with her reading of Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou.

Seth Leverence and Commcare Pharmacy donated the refreshments for bash. Commcare Pharmacy is a Specialty Pharmacy that expands the accessibility of special medications used in the treatment of chronic and acute illness.

What is SISTA?

SISTA is a social-skills training intervention for African American women that gives women the social and behavioral skills they need to adopt HIV risk-reduction strategies. It is aimed at reducing HIV sexual risk behavior by hetero-sexually-active African American women at highest risk for HIV. It is composed of five sessions, two hours each, delivered by Pat Fleurinord and Mychell Stoakley in various community settings, such as MODCO, Susan B. Anthony’s and Broward County jails. Each session is gender and culturally relevant and includes behavioral skills practice, group discussions, lectures, role-playing, a prevention video, and take-home exercises.

The five core elements of the SISTA program include: Convening five group sessions facilitated by a peer health educator; Educating participants about condoms through hands-on exercises; Emphasizing gender and ethnic pride as a means to reduce HIV risk behaviors; Educating participants about HIV and other STDs; and Teaching sexual assertiveness and communication.

For more information on Broward House’s SISTA program and/or to sign up, contact Patricia Fleurinord at (954) 806-5335 or Mychell Stoakley at (954) 568-7373 ext. 2247 or ext. 2229.

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