Birds, Bees & the Tea

DeKalb County Board of Health, Cobb-Douglas Public Health, GNR Public Health

Women Accessing Power: Birds, Bees & the Tea was presented in observance of Women & Girls HIV Awareness Day in a collaborative effort by Cobb & Douglas Public Health, DeKalb County Board of Health, Fulton County Board of Health, and GNR Public Health on March 12, 2023 at Agnes Scott College. This event targeted women,16 and older. 

Nearly 200 women got dressed in their Sunday’s best to join celebrity gynecologist and Married to Medicine star Dr. Jackie Walters for a deep dive into women’t health, music, vendors, and tea! Ashley Cobb, social media influencer and HIV educator covered PrEP and spoke with women about “consent.” A panel of 4 remarkable women living with HIV shared their journeys and answered audience questions at the end. The participation and feedback was overwhelming positive in this safe space for conversations regarding their sexual health concerns in a tea party setting. 

In addition to programming, we honored the legacy of Dr. Dawn Smith for her lifelong commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS. Dr. Dawn Smith is a prolific and pioneering HIV/AIDS researcher, epidemiologist and public health professional at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the late 1980s, she learned of a new and deadly disease that was killing African American people at a disproportionate rate. Embraced as the Mother of PrEP, she has been one of the nation’s leading analysts of and advocates for expanding access to and use of PrEP among all those for whom it is indicated, including gay men of color and heterosexual men and women. On October 31st, 2023 she passed away several days before her 73rd birthday in her Atlanta home. Leisha McKinley-Beach was given an award in her name for picking up the torch.

The counties enjoyed collaborating on this effort for women throughout the Metro. Each week, on average 7 representatives met tirelessly to plan and discuss the logistics of the event and the flow of the conversation surrounding women’s health.

The PrEP discussion was particularly invaluable. Many of the women in the audience had no knowledge of PrEP and had the opportunity to have their questions addressed by certified HIV educator, Ashley Cobb.

The panelists were amazing and provided a broad context for how HIV can be contracted and what life can look like post-diagnosis. One of our panelist was born with HIV. One was married and diagnosed with HIV while pregnant and went on to have a second child both of which are HIV negative. The panel helped to promote sisterhood and reduce stigma.

The participation and feedback was overwhelmingly positive with nearly 200 attendees. Engagement level was high; there was never a moment when there was not a discussion going on and questions being asked and answered. Additionally, our host who is a celebrity OBGYN vowed to make changes in her practice in terms of promoting additional HIV prevention methods such as PrEP. The audience mostly enjoyed the quality of the presenters according to the survey. Attendees responded they would be likely to very likely to attend this event in the future and likely the get tested in the future.