For Immediate Release       
Monday October 26, 2009



Breaking the Silence

How are women of color being adversely affected by HIV and AIDS?

To understand this question and, hopefully, find some answers, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science is holding a free, all-day community health conference: “Breaking the Silence: Black and Latina Women Finding Ways to Take Care of Ourselves in Our Relationships with Men.”

The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 in the Keck Auditorium on the campus of Charles Drew University in South Los Angeles. In addition to Charles Drew University, event sponsors include UCLA, Los Angeles CARE Center, and Women at Risk with support from the Los Angeles AIDS Coordinator’s office.

“The goal of this health conference is to understand how power and self esteem affect some of the choices women make regarding their own health,” said Dr. Nina Harawa, Assistant Professor at Charles Drew University, Department of Research. “This may affect who they have sex with, whether or not they choose to use protection, and if they become infected with HIV.”

The keynote speaker for the community event will be Brenda Stone Browder, author of “ON THE UP AND UP: A Survival Guide for Women Living with Men on the Down Low.” Ms. Browder will talk about the dilemmas women confront when they discover their man is sleeping with another man. Browder, a writer, educator, and motivational speaker from Ohio, has appeared on various radio and television talk shows and her book, “On The Up and Up,” is an Essence Magazine best seller. 

Organizers of the all-day health conference expect more than 150 women, representing all ages, to participate. Workshop and panel discussion will be held on the roles that culture and gender play in the choices being made regarding a healthy lifestyle. The conference will seek to create a comfortable environment for women to discuss individual decisions about sex, drug use and partner selection.

Another major objective of the conference is to heighten awareness of the high risk of infection for African American and Latina women due to heterosexual contact with men who have sex with men. By the end of the event, women should have gained a better understanding of why some men have sex with both men and do not tell their female partners. Workshops engaging men to join in the fight against HIV will also be presented.

An onsite mobile testing unit will offer free testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, free childcare, raffle prizes, and informational materials will be provided.

Breaking the Silence was initiated from a grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to help study this significant issue for women’s health. The NIH-funded research study involves African American and Latin adult women and is being conducted by Dr. Nina Harawa of Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, Department of Research. 

Women who are HIV positive and unsure how they or their partners became infected are being recruited for the study. In addition, women who are currently or who have had past sexual relationship with a man who has had sex with another man are being recruited for the study. 

Each study participant will complete a 60-to-70 minute, one-on-one interview along with a brief survey. The interview will examine psychosocial factors surrounding participant’s sexual relationships with men, including known bisexual, potentially bisexual, and presumed heterosexual men; discuss attitudes and behaviors regarding health-related research, health care, and STD/HIV prevention; and explore how HIV- positive women with unidentified sexual risk perceive they and their partners were infected.

Data collected from this study will help inform prevention efforts and provide information to better address the HIV epidemic in women of color. Participants receive $40.00 in cash.    

For more information about the study please call 323-357-3484 or visit

Please call 323-357-3400 to register for Breaking the Silence, Saturday November 7th, 2009 or you can register online at

Register in Spanish at 310-557-9062.  The conference will be completely bi-lingual, all presentations will have Spanish translators.


  For more information, please contact:
John L. Mitchell
Media Advisor at
Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science
Telephone: (323) 563-4981 or cell (323) 681-4225

1731 East 120th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90059
p 323 563 4987  f 323 563 5987

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