We tested this video series and learned that after watching, women did change, lowering risk, taking better care of themselves, listening to that voice that says “I don’t really trust that he is with me only,” and acting on that awareness by using condoms. This project is about raising awareness that there are choices and feeling the freedom to act on those choices. Often those choices mean using condoms.
The Women’s Project is a project dedicated to women who live in urban communities. Our main goal was to create an urban soap opera video series 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. Groups were held with women in the urban northeast and those discussions were analyzed to form the basis to the stories told in this work. 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.
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 of that time, 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.
Based on our conducting 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.
I have worked with Dr. Rachel Jones since 2009 as the Project Manager of her research projects. I obtained a bachelor’s degree from Boston University in 2006 where I majored in Human Physiology. I obtained a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 2009 with a concentration in Epidemiology. Currently I am pursuing my PhD in Population health with a focus on STD and HIV prevention among adolescents.
My previous research experience includes STD prevention among adolescents, intimate partner violence among adolescents, and cancer prevention research. After completing my master’s degree, I wanted to shift my focus to working within the field of HIV prevention in an urban population. Through Dr. Jones’ work I was given the opportunity to make a real difference in reducing HIV among African-American women. In addition to HIV prevention, I am a fighter for social justice locally and abroad.
I was born in Newark, New Jersey, and nurtured in Georgia and North Carolina. I graduated with honors from University High School, then went on to obtain an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Essex County College, and a B.A. from Rutgers University in Television and Media, with a minor in Social Work.
I have had leading roles in stage plays such as Poor Girl Rich Girl, Newlyweds, Man of the House, You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide, A Piece of Me, Love’s Gonna Get Ya, Church Folks, Cooking in Yesterday’s Grease, Best Kept Secrets, and Looking For Love; and independent films, such as A Piece of Me, God is Calling, and A River Runs.
When I was originally thinking about how to take these stories and bring them to life, my main concern was how to make it as honest as possible. The issues that the characters were dealing with in their lives were heavy enough. This meant that I would NOT want a video that stressed style over content.
Working with some wonderfully skilled actors who could relate to the characters in the script made the characters as real as our friends. Collaborating closely with those who live and work in some of the housing developments in Jersey City and community centers in Newark allowed us to choose locations and spaces that were to become the familiar backgrounds for all our scenes. And having a project team at every step kept us all on point.
We acknowledge the hard work of the Rutgers University College of Nursing undergraduate research assistants (RAs) during the testing of A Story about Toni, Mike, and Valerie and Love, Sex, and Choices:
Yvesnallie Antoine, Essence Burrows, Fernandine Charles, Lin Chen, Geraldine Dufort, Catherine Lora, Sandra Rios, Tatiana Saavedra, Griselda Sanchez, and Mireille Zuninga.
Akira Brown, Sabrina Chen, Akirah Charles-Brown, Diana Jacques, Nenser Krua, Shanice Henry, Emily King, Sonia Okafor, and Eloni Porcher, Angelica Receirdo, Bernice Turner.
To bring us up to date, many of the RAs are now nurses serving the community.
We’d like to thank the many cast and crew members who made this video series possible. Our appreciation goes out to all of those involved with the production of this series.