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Cell phone soap operas target Latinas and African American women in stopping spread of HIV

LatinaLista — It’s a fact that people love their cell phones. It’s also a fact that girls love MTVish reality shows.
Combine these two facts and they serve as the premise of a new study by nurse educators at Rutgers University’s College of Nursing who are hoping to reach more urban Latinas and African American girls who are at high risk for contracting HIV.

A “Love Safer” video entitled Passion Through Protection.
As lead investigator of the Women to Women Study of Relationships, Rachel Jones, assistant professor at Rutgers, the State University of NJ, College of Nursing used grant money she received to commission the creation of a special video series highlighting true stories of girls and their sexual experiences.

Our main goal was to create an urban soap opera video based on women’s real stories about their relationships with men. We explored reasons why women engaged in unprotected sex with male partners that they distrusted and even thought were having sex with other women, or men, or injecting drugs.

At stopHIV, visitors can view the 43-minute pilot video or the 6-minute instructional “Love Safer” videos which were written by Jones, with input, from the actors featured in the videos.
The videos are categorized into two different types of scripts: Lower Power Sex Scripts and Higher Power Sex Scripts:

Lower Power Sex Scripts:
We listened and learned. We learned that having sex without using condoms is a usual practice to get a man, to hold on to a man, to show trust, and to get and stay close. Some women talked of “Having to Satisfy a Man” and accepting cheating because of “What He’s Doing for Me”, and “As Long as He Comes Home to Me”. Some women said that they were “Blinded by Love”. We call these Lower Power Sex Scripts. Lower power means women have a lower awareness of themselves as women (seeing themselves and other women as Chicken Heads and Jump Offs), seeing few choices (Need Him, As long as He Comes Home to Me), and were going about their lives to “Do Whatever it Takes” to satisfy and hold onto a man who was cheating on them.
The problem with the strategy of unprotected sex to hold onto a man is that it never seems to work.The men leave anyway and the women end up unhappy and worse. Worse can mean feeling badly most of the time, it can mean financial problems, the baby’s father is gone, and it can also mean HIV infection.
Higher Power Sex Scripts:
We also heard Higher Power Sex Scripts from women who are aware of themselves as being worthy of respect and see themselves as having more choices in life and men and they went after their dreams, not allowing bad relationships to get in their way. We heard stories about Girl Power, Expecting Sex is Not All Right, Take the Power, and You Don’t Own Me. Women had a lot to say about the good relationships that helped them to meet their own needs.

The videos had been shown to the women in the study on hand-held computers because it was easier for the women to watch the videos in private and wherever they want. The next step in the program is to reach even more women by showing the videos on cell phones.
For the cell phones, 12 vignettes of 20 minutes each were created to send to the women participating in the study. So far, educators say the responses have been positive with the women in the study confessing to taking a new look at their relationships.
No word yet if these cell phone videos will be available to the public.



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