Nicole Clark Consulting

Raise Your Voice for Women and Girls of Color

  • 25th August
  • 25

Sound Off: One in Three U.S. Teens Are Unaware That HIV is a Sexually Transmitted Infection, Survey Reports

(Image courtesy)

Each week, I bring you a current news article, along with my commentary, to raise your voice about. Share your thoughts on topic in the comments section below. Agreeing to disagree is always great, but please be sure to keep it respectful. Nicole Clark Consulting reserves the right to remove disrespectful, off-topic, and threatening comments.

A recent report released by the MAC AIDS Fund, reports that U.S. teens can benefit from more education on HIV. The survey, conducted by Kelton Research between May 22-June 5, 2014, surveyed 1,039 American teens ages 12-17 on their views on HIV stigma, transmission, and prevention. 

Some of the highlights from the report include:

* 9 out of 10 (88%) believe they are not at risk for contracting HIV. Also, one-third (33%) were not aware that HIV is a sexually transmitted infection.

* 50% of respondents are afraid of contracting HIV and would be nervous if they were to get an HIV positive diagnosis (93%), around the same percentage as if they were to get a positive pregnancy test (94%) or have to engage in first-time sexual activity (91%)

*While the belief that their risk of contracting HIV is low, the respondents were far more likely to believe they are at greater risk for developing cancer (38%), diabetes (33%), heart disease (28%) or obesity (22%) during their lifetime.

*While most believed that using a condom (71%), abstaining from sex (58%), or getting testing for HIV regularly can prevent the spread of HIV (55%), most did not know that HIV prevention also includes reducing the amount of sexual partners (47%), not using alcohol or drugs (33%) or talking with others about prevent HIV prevention (29%).

*While teens feel they can benefit from more education on HIV and AIDS and are open to having more discussions on prevention and transmission (59%), 45% admit that having these conversations makes them uncomfortable.

*Teens would feel ashamed (53%), scared (69%), and feel that others would be afraid of them (50%) if they were to be diagnosed with HIV. Also, if they were to meet someone with HIV, 24% wouldn’t want to share food or drink with that person, touch them (31%), or treat them as a normal person (51%).

Nicole’s take: Other than age, we don’t know much else about the survey respondents. Where’s the rest of the information? Can we at least get a breakdown of the data based on age range? I understand that not all quantitative data collection is solid, but I feel that we’re missing some valuable information by not including other factors. It would have also been great to see how the beliefs of the respondents break down based on geographic region, gender, race and ethnicity, urban versus suburban or rural location, grade level, or age of onset of sexual activity. That would have also been interesting to know if the students who reported receiving sex education from schools (56%) or from family members (38%) were receiving abstinence-only education or comprehensive sex education.

Despite these shortcomings, Dr. Gil Ross, executive director of the American Council on Science and Health, says, “[P]ublic health educational outreach that was successful during the height of the AIDS epidemic and for a decade thereafter focusing on ‘safe sex’, ‘wear a condom every time,’ etc., may be losing its hold on the short-attention span generation with us now”.

To speak to Dr. Ross’ quote, we need to start thinking of more creative ways to education not only young people, but adults as well on how HIV is transmitted, what treatments are available, and how to prevent HIV. We also need to distribute funding evenly in HIV treatment and prevention research. While the focus has been on men who sleep with men (MSM) in recent years, despite not having enough information, this survey proves that stigma reduction and creative educational techniques are needed for our young people to help stop the spread of HIV. Also, having more discussion on HIV as a treatable yet preventable condition rather than something to be ashamed of can also increase teens’ ability to know what universal precautions to take to prevent HIV (and what myths perpetuate stereotypes that continue to stigmatize people living with HIV). It’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s a start. 

RAISE YOUR VOICE: What do you think of the findings?  Have you conducted research and would support MAC AIDS Funds’ findings? If you’re between ages 12-17, do you find that these results are accurate among your friends or classmates?


If you like this and other posts, subscribe to the Raise Your Voice weekly newsletter to receive resources, advice, and tips to help you raise your voice for women and girls of color.


Related Posts

Sound Off: Researchers Recommend Sex Ed Class Starts as Early as Age 10

Sound Off: Is This The Next Hobby Lobby?

Try This Activity: Including Pleasure in Youth Sex Education

  • 20th August
  • 20

Women Making Moves: Interview with Ashley Wright


I promote parent-child connection.  Breastfeeding is just one avenue. There are dance parties, babywearing, getting outside with your baby; tapping into what your soul tells you. It’s about finding peace and living free so that you can cherish those everyday special moments with your child. ~ Ashley Wright

Women Making Moves highlights how women and girls of color are raising their voices to improve the health and lives of many in the areas of reproductive justice, holistic wellness, feminism, social justice, entrepreneurship, the arts and sciences, and more.

Meet Ashley Wright, a badass breastfeeding, babywearing, attachment parenting, pole dancing, Yogi mama, inspiring parents and communities her way!

A California girl, Ashley has always had an appreciation for love, fitness, artistic expression and a natural way of living.  After having obtained a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Hampton University, Ashley began to slowly come into her own, rejecting the demands of what others felt were appropriate for her life. However, it wasn’t until she became a mother, that she truly understood her path and the necessity of support.

As an activist for breastfeeding awareness and attachment parenting, Ashley has organized the most attended World Breastfeeding Week event to date with the Northeast Valley Health Corporation.  Ashley is living out loud, using social media to build her village, increase her family and establish a strong support system; spreading the message of self-love, healing and natural parenting.  

With her rapidly growing family, reaching as many as 3 million people, from speaking at the California State Capitol during the California WIC Association 40th Celebration, to being featured on major websites, such as Elle, NewsOne, Free The Nipple, KellyMom, MomsRising and Breastfeeding Mama Talk, Ashley continues to express gratitude and appreciation for support and kindness towards one another.

I first found out about Ashley through a pole dance studio recital video that she posted on her YouTube channel back in 2010. I was so impressed with her strength and dancing style that I sought her out on Facebook! Since then, I’ve watched Ashley blossom into an authentic and compassionate activist for breastfeeding awareness. In raising awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and of the stigma associated with public breastfeeding, Ashley is empowering parents, especially parents of color, to celebrate their many choices in parenting their children. I’m so thrilled to feature Ashley during World Breastfeeding Month, and I hope you become inspired by her as much as I am. Keep up with Ashley via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and at Ms. Wright’s Way

Read more about Ashley, her work, what inspires her, and how she takes care of herself. 

Read More

  • 15th August
  • 15

The Self Care Corner: The Self Care Wheel

In order to raise your voice for others, you have to take care of yourself first. If you like this and other posts, subscribe to the Raise Your Voice weekly newsletter to receive resources, advice, and tips to help you raise your voice for women and girls of color.

This is The Self Care Wheel, created by Olga Press Project: Healing for Social Change and adapted from the “Self Care Assessment Worksheet” in Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization. It’s a great graphic of how various aspects of our lives work in tandem to create wellness and balance. When one part of the wheel is not functioning, it affects the other parts. For example, when we decide to skip lunch, plow through to meet our deadlines, and decide to stay late at the office to finish some assignments, we may decide to grab an unhealthy snack to eat quickly, become more stressed, and lose out on spending quality time with others.

Take a look at the wheel and the recommendations given for optimal professional, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and personal wellness.

Download The Self Care Wheel


RAISE YOUR VOICE: What you think about this week’s resource? Share your insights in the comments section below. 


Related Posts

The Self Care Corner: 7 Step Prescription for Self Love

The Self Care Corner: Mindful Eating

The Self Care Corner: Identify Your “Breathe” Supports

  • 13th August
  • 13

Ask Nicole: How Can I Build My Evaluation Skills?


Do you have a question that other Raise Your Voice community members can benefit from? Contact me and I’ll answer it!

Several weeks ago, I received the following email from a fellow program evaluator:

Hi Nicole,

I read your blog post, “Program Evaluation for Women and Girls of Color: How I Developed My Passion for Evaluation Practice,” and I was immediately drawn to it. I am an up and coming program evaluator who is fairly new to the field and still on a learning curve. I am struggling to figure out my place in the field, whether I belong here, and whether there are growth opportunities for me as an evaluator of color with a social equity, direct service, and light research background. A previous boss once told me that she didn’t believe I loved research, and didn’t see me as being an evaluator. While I agree that research isn’t my forte, there continues to be something that draws me to evaluation. I consider myself to be pragmatic and can get lost in big picture thinking, something researchers are good at. But, I believe in program accountability, neutrality in the presentation of information, and integrity. These are all elements that I believe evaluation brings to the table. I do wish to grow in my career, but at times I feel like giving up because I don’t yet know a lot about many things related to evaluation. Anyway, I’m happy to have come across your blog post because it provided some comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who has questioned her place in program evaluation. Your words are empowering!It would be great to speak with you further about your career trajectory in evaluation.What professional development opportunities would you recommend? How may I build up my evaluation skills? Looking forward to your response.

This was a really thoughtful question, and it’s great to hear from a fellow program evaluator of color!

Program evaluation is a rapidly changing field, and as you see, it’s exciting and daunting at the same time. Like you, I consider myself an up and coming evaluator, and I totally understand the feeling of not know all that one needs to know in order to get ahead in this field. I’ve come to find that, in my experience, you’ll always be on a learning curve because of emerging best practices, the latest research, and current trends. That’s what makes evaluation so exciting.

When I decided to develop a career in program evaluation, I began reading up on anything and everything related to program evaluation. And then I started to get overwhelmed. There’s so much to evaluation that it’s almost impossible to know everything. So, a recommendation I have for is to figure out what you want to develop your niche in, and build your skills in that, if possible. For example, I’m into participatory evaluation, empowerment evaluation, and evaluation theories that can be applied within racial, feminist, gender, and youth lenses. Elements such as logic models, quantitative and qualitative data collection, and the like are the basis for all evaluation theories, and I when I need to figure out how to run an analysis, or if I need additional help in looking for key themes in a qualitative data set, I’ll ask my colleagues. In other words, everything is (in the words of entrepreneur Marie Forleo, “figure-outable”).

Read More

  • 11th August
  • 11

Sound Off: Researchers Recommend Sex Ed Classes Starts as Early as Age 10

(Image Credit: Shuttershock)

Each week, I bring you a current news article, along with my commentary, to raise your voice about. Share your thoughts on topic in the comments section below. Agreeing to disagree is always great, but please be sure to keep it respectful. Nicole Clark Consulting reserves the right to remove disrespectful, off-topic, and threatening comments.

A new study reported by Georgetown University Institute for Reproductive Health recommends that children should start receiving comprehensive sex education as early as age 10. 

The study, called "Investing in Very Young Adolescents’ Sexual and Reproductive Health", gives this recommendation from a global health perspective, highlighting the need for a more global view of harm reduction and prevention that not only benefits health professionals and researchers conducting research that will lead to better health guidelines, but can encourage more effective policies and more community involvement.

Think Progress reports that one of the fears in mandating a national standard for sex education as been in large part due to the support around “abstinence-only until marriage” programs. Coupled with the belief that teaching young people about sex and sexuality outside of the confides of marriage is wrong, there is the fear that teaching children about sex will encourage them to become sexually active sooner. 

In discussion about this latest research and the fears mentioned above, Victoria Jennings, director of Georgetown’s Institute for Reproductive Health told the Chicago Tribune: “[Teaching children about sex] has to be done in the context of helping them develop healthy self-esteem and the ability to negotiate their way in the world and develop expectations for themselves and their lives that will cause them to make decisions that will lead to positive outcomes.”

Nicole’s take: Have you heard of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act? This bill, co-authored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and the late Senator Frank Launtenberg (D-NJ), was re-introduced in the 2013 congressional legislature. This bill, if passed, will set the vision for comprehensive sex education in the United States. Originally named the “Responsible Education About Life Act”, this bill has been introduced to Congress since 2001. While it receives support from other Congress leaders, families, and organizations that support comprehensive sex education,  it never gets enough votes to pass both the House of Representatives or the Senate. 

The REAL Act is important because, despite the latest findings from Georgetown and countless other research that proceeds it, the United States government only gives federal funding to abstinence-based sex education programs. The REAL Act can ensure that federal funding is allocated to comprehensive sexual health education programs that provide young people with the skills and information they need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions. Studies such as the one presented by Georgetown have the potential to revitalize the advocacy around the REAL Act, and can bring it one step closer to becoming a reality.

Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control, most American teens don’t receive formal sexual health instruction until after they’ve already become sexually active, in part due to the United States not having set national standards for comprehensive sex ed in public schools. (There are some states (18 to be exact along with Washington, DC) that require some form of sex health course in public schools.)

While the United States prides itself on being one of the most advanced countries in the world, we still continue to miss the mark when it comes to making sure that young people have the knowledge and tools needed to make healthy lie decisions. Need more proof? Here are 5 countries that get it right.

RAISE YOUR VOICE: Do you think young people as early as 10 years old should receive sex education in schools? 


If you like this and other posts, subscribe to the Raise Your Voice weekly newsletter to receive resources, advice, and tips to help you raise your voice for women and girls of color.


Related Posts

Sound Off: Is This The Next Hobby Lobby?

The Problem with “Think Being a Teen Parent Won’t Cost You?” 

Try This Activity: Including Pleasure in Youth Sex Education