I am an Associate Professor at Northeastern University, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, School of Nursing in Boston, Massachusetts.
I was working as a registered nurse in emergency rooms at the dawn of the epidemic-before treatment was available. Like many nurses, I worked by day and helped care for friends with AIDS by night. The current work shown on this website is a commitment to the examples of courage I saw in those who succumbed to AIDS; to their lovers, friends, families, and communities, and to the nurses and physicians who cared for them.
My Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is from Case Western Reserve University. After years working in emergency rooms, intensive care units, medical wards, and public health in Newark, Jersey City, and NYC, I became a family nurse practitioner, with a Masters of Science (MS) in Family Primary Care from Pace University.
As a family nurse practitioner I found that there were women and men who continued to have unprotected sex even though they were aware that their partners may be messing around with other people. It didn’t even matter that they knew someone with HIV. I would see women and men return to my clinic with sexually transmitted infections even though we talked about how to reduce risk. Living in Jersey City, and with friends in Newark and New York, the epidemic was around me. I returned for my PhD in Nursing Research and Theory Development at New York University and studied HIV risk in urban women.
Based on several studies among young urban women in sexual relationships with male partners, we came to understand that knowledge and intentions to reduce HIV risk were essential but not enough to change unprotected sex with high risk partners. We understood the need to focus on the reasons women engage in unprotected sex in the context of their relationships.
We held focus groups with women in Newark, Jersey City, and surrounding cities, and wrote the stories you will watch. These stories are based on women’s realities and are written from the framework of Dr. EAM Barrett’s Theory of Power as Knowing Participation in Change (more on this in our website) and Sex Script Theory (Simon & Gagnon). Today, we have conducted ongoing research with well over 1,000 women and have created these soap opera videos: one as a 43-minute pilot and the other as a series. The videos resonate with women’s trials and tribulations in relationships with men. They also show women as they grow and change and their wisdom emerges. Women are shown realistically and with the respect they deserve.
Our goal is to share the wisdom of women with women who are not yet in touch with their power as women. The creation of the videos was funded by grants from the National Institute of Nursing Research, the National Library of Medicine, the Healthcare Foundation of NJ, and with great support from the Rutgers, College of Nursing.
These videos could not have been developed without the women in the community sharing their wisdom, without Alan Roth, our filmmaker, the talented actors, and crew (see credits page). We acknowledge the hard work of College of Nursing undergraduate research assistants (RAs) during the testing of A Story about Toni, Mike, and Valerie: Tina Truncellito, Kianna Cromedy, Esmeralda Valle, and Shauday Rodney, all from the Rutgers College of Nursing Educational Opportunity Fund. To bring us up to date, the RAs are now nurses serving the community.
This work is dedicated to promoting health in the community and an end to HIV/AIDS here and abroad.