The Heart of it All: HIV Testing & Prevention Role Model Stories


On May 1st, 2019 the HIV Testing and Prevention (HTP) Program will be releasing the latest round of Role Model Stories (RMS) on all of our social media platforms. Our role model stories are true testimonials of individuals in our very own community who have made positive behavior changes to reduce their risks of acquiring or transmitting HIV, including getting tested, using condoms, or adhering to treatment. During our most recent program year we distributed five role model stories through outreach, peer advocates, social media, and the IWES website through our Community PROMISE (Peers Reaching Out and Modeling Intervention Strategies) program, which is a community-level intervention that utilizes community influencers and/or Peer Advocates to distribute Role Model Stories to communities heavily impacted by high HIV rates.

Role Model Stories are impactful, courageous, inspiring, and relatable to individuals in a specific community. These empowering stories provide insight into an individual’s personal experiences by allowing community members to journey through their struggles and their triumphs. The stories allow community members to use one another as role models with the purpose of building their courage to get tested, seek medical care or remain medically adherent. The role models share their stories as an obligation to their communities. The voices of the Role Model Stories are sacred, not only to the individuals but also to the communities that the role models belong to and call home. When the role models share their stories, they share them with great pride and authenticity, because their stories make an enormous difference in changing the narrative about individuals living with HIV/AIDS, or individuals at high risk of obtaining HIV/AIDS.

The basic principle theory driving this intervention is the Theory of Change. The stories reflect the experiences of people living with HIV or at risk of acquiring HIV and are used to shift community norms, attitudes, and behaviors. To ensure that the PROMISE Role Model Stories are authentic and community-driven, HTP’s Community Advisory Board plays a significant role in vetting and providing feedback on each of them before finalizing and releasing them to the public, and we appreciate their insight and direction. The PROMISE intervention has a goal of improving an individual’s opportunity to explore positive behavior changes, with the aim of encouraging individuals to adopt new behaviors into their personal care continuum. Because we received such amazing feedback on these stories, HTP has already started working on new Role Model Stories, including a couple that will be released in video format and others that will be published throughout this program year. For additional information regarding the PROMISE intervention please feel free to contact our PROMISE Coordinator Madorah Sesay at 407-614-7582 or by email.

In addition to the moving Role Model Stories, the HTP team encourages everyone to take charge of their health by getting tested with us at our various community-based testing sites, which include: our office, by request; the Walgreens at Gentilly on Wednesdays from 3:00pm -6:00pm; the Walgreens at Elysian Fields on 1st and 3rd Thursdays; and the Walgreens at Crowder on 2nd and 4th Thursdays.

Please contact the HIV Testing Coordinator for additional information or follow us on our social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for updates on our testing locations. For people living with HIV that are not currently linked to medical care, HTP has an outstanding Linkage to Care/ARTAS Coordinator who will walk anyone in need of care through their chosen system of care to assure a comfortable and well-connected linkage to medical care. By the way, we also supply free condoms. Just give us a call.

Iman ShervingtonComment