‘A’ohe pau ke ‘ike I ka halau ho’okahi –
All knowledge is not taught in the same school.
This Hawaiian proverb passed down through generations reminds us to pay attention, as opportunities to learn can be found from many sources. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders are 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV infection as compared to the Caucasian population.
The S.I.S.T.A.H. Project or Sisters Informing Sisters on Topics of AIDS in Hawai’i wants to change this statistic through a fun and educational program that empowers and inspires women to take control of their sexual health.
S.I.S.T.A.H. is much more than a class on AIDS. It is a skills building program culturally-tailored and aimed towards educating and empowering women in Hawai’i to reduce their risk of contracting HIV and other STIs. The fun and cultural intervention program is funded by the County of Maui and consists of five-core, two-hour sessions; one session per week. Each week a different topic is discussed where sessions are gender and culturally relevant and include behavioral skills activities, group discussions, lectures, role playing, take home exercises and sometimes special guest speakers.
The five topics the group examines are: Gender Pride, HIV 101, Interpersonal Communication, Assertiveness, and Behavioral Management skills. The goal of each session is to educate and create a discussion that helps to generate change, however big or small.
Part of the learning experience with S.I.S.T.A.H. is learning from each other. S.I.S.T.A.H.’s success is dependent on the level of participation within a session, therefore S.I.S.T.A.H. has a minimum of six and a maximum of ten participant requirement per group.
The follow-up booster sessions are part of the conditions that make S.I.S.T.A.H. a unique and rewarding program. There are two booster sessions once the initial core sessions are completed. Booster sessions are tailored to the interests of each group; focused on emphasizing the core topics while continuing to promote self-reflection and empowerment.
If you would like to be apart of this group, know someone who you think would benefit from attending, have any questions or would like to learn more about the S.I.S.T.A.H. Project go to mauiaids.org or contact Chasity Cadaoas at the Maui AIDS Foundation (808)242-4900.
Image Credit: Maui Aids Foundation