Blacks/African Americans have the most severe and disproportionate burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Oppression (i.e., socio-structural (macro), institutional (exo), community (meso), and interpersonal (micro)), operates as four interrelated prongs that perpetuate the HIV epidemic in Black/African American communities. Oppressive (i.e., racist and sexist) cultural scripts transferred to individuals through community, family and interpersonal relationships may play a role in HIV/STI risk. However, socio-behavioral health interventions or behavioral risk reduction interventions have traditionally focused solely on individual-level health risk behaviors allowing invisible, inequitable socio-structural factors to continue unchallenged. A new intervention, Black Men and Women: Empowering Self, Relationships and Community, was sculpted from two existing interventions Community Wise and Men of African American Legacy Empowering Self (MAALES) to develop awareness of oppressive cultural scripts operating on interpersonal and intrapersonal levels and to take action against these oppressive messages to reclaim identity, restore relationships, and build community. This paper summarizes the theory and selected sociodramatic components of the intervention that promote healing in action to reduce HIV/STI risk among heterosexually identified, low-income African American men and women with multiple sex partners. Lessons learned in theory, research and practice are also discussed.
From sculpting an intervention to healing in action