Monday, November 2, 2015

Our communities, our sexual health

Though it hardly seems that far in the past, the HIV/AIDS epidemic first gripped the nation more than 30 years ago. In the time since, communities have worked together to fight the diseases’ deadly impacts.

It’s that history that inspired the stories in “Our Communities Our Sexual Health: Awareness and Prevention for African Americans.” Edited by Madeline Sutton, Jo A. Valentine and William C. Jenkins, the book explores the struggles and successes in the black community, from public health workers and advocates to lay people.

It’s those many stories that make the book special, says Jenkins, who was signing copies of the book with Sutton on Sunday at the APHA Press booth in the Public Health Expo hall.

“For me, it was...a journey of reflection of some great people in public health,” he says. “I’m hoping that it will describe different journeys, different views, different experiences people might have, so they can think through their journey in public health.”

Pulling from many experts in sexual and public health, the editors found that their stories, while they came from all walks of life and health, touched on similar points.

“I went into it with a very open view of what people might say, and I was pleased with this sense that there were connections in the journeys,” Jenkins adds.

It was clear that the editors themselves had made connections as well. During their book signing, many people approached both Sutton and Jenkins to thank them for their work on the book, their mentorship and their friendship over the years. Many worked in sexual health, as advocates for black health or both, but some were laypeople. That’s just the mix the editors hope to reach, says Sutton.

“A couple of people said they already read it and were using it in their classes that are ongoing,” Sutton says. “That’s nice to hear. It means we’re hitting the right communities. Ultimately, I would like for it to resonate with the lay person, that they would find some nugget in there for them.”

“Our Communities Our Sexual Health” is available at the APHA Press booth, #941, and online.

— L.W.

Above, an Annual Meeting attendee poses with authors Madeline Sutton and William Jenkins, who signed copies of their book yesterday at the Public Health Expo. Photo by Lindsey Wahowiak

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