About half of all new HIV infections - 45% to be exact - occur
among African Americans. To say this makes fighting the disease
of crucial importance to that community in particular would be an
understatement, and researchers are trying desperately to figure
out how to help. Eban may be one way.
Eban, or "fence," is a traditional African concept of love,
safety and security. And, in a study of African American couples
in which one partner had HIV, an intervention program based on
this concept reduced risky behaviors associated with HIV and STD
Although there was little difference in STD incidence between the
two groups, couples in the Eban-based intervention program were
significantly more likely to use condoms than were those in a
similar, but non-Eban-centric program.
The researchers write in their conclusion: "Public health
scientists have urged a shift beyond individual-level HIV
interventions to prevention strategies that have an impact on
social structures and context to curb the epidemic among African
This strategy could be one with potential.
Here's the full AIDS-intervention study published Monday in the
Archives of Internal Medicine, and the news release from Emory
The results are timely. President Obama acknowledged this week
that, thus far, the nation's attempts to prevent the spread of
AIDS have been less than successful. Here's Wednesday's L.A.
Times story: Obama's HIV/AIDS policy hailed for targeting spread
And more on the Eban HIV/STD risk-reduction strategy, from a
study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency
Syndromes. The summary states: "Highlighting Nguzo Saba
principles and matching facilitator-participant ethnocultural
backgrounds increased the meaning and relevance of the
intervention content and made participants feel comfortable
disclosing and working through sensitive risk behaviors."
In other words: This could work.
Here's the symbol for Eban and other West African symbols from