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Spoken word is a collaborative effort between residents of two rural counties in North Carolina and Project GRACE (Growing, Reaching, Advocating for Change and Empowerment), a community-based participatory research collaboration aimed at reducing health disparities in African American communities.

The project included 15 adult and youth participants.

The SWP consisted of two phases: spoken word training and spoken word performances.

The materials for the SWP drew from curricula previously developed for photovoice projects and in consultation with spoken word poets.

Conversations with community partners in Project GRACE highlighted the need to raise social consciousness and awareness about HIV in the local community, increase individual and collective self-efficacy to prevent HIV/AIDS, facilitate dialogue about HIV, and decrease stigma towards HIV in the local community.

Both Edgecombe and Nash counties have three-year HIV disease rates above the state average; Edgecombe at 31.4 and Nash at 17.4 cases per 100,000 (North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 2013).

Jones, Doris Stith, Tiarney Richwood, Turquoise Griffith, Leslie Atley, and Giselle Corbie-Smith Abstract Spoken word, a form of performance poetry, is a promising approach to HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, as it has the potential to encourage dialogue among and within communities and address concerns regarding the social stigma present in rural communities.

The purpose of this study is to describe the development and implementation of the Spoken Word Project (SWP), an HIV/AIDS pilot intervention in rural North Carolina designed to improve HIV-related attitudes and self-efficacy and decrease stigma through the use of performance poetry.

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For the audience or broader community, performance poetry encourages dialogue around HIV; dispels stigma by encouraging community-wide empathy and social responsibility; and creates opportunities to discuss strategies for communities to engage in HIV prevention (Moyo, 2010).In addition to stimulating community interest in socially relevant issues, performance poetry also promotes peer-topeer camaraderie and social relationships through critical reflection and exchange of ideas.This in turn encourages greater community mobilization and cohesion around an issue of importance (Pietrzyk, 2009; Valente & Bharath, 1999).Performance poetry, a form of poetry often performed as a dramatized monologue in the presence of an audience, provides a platform to transcend stigma and marginalization associated with HIV/AIDS, both of which are significant challenges to rural HIV prevention (Pietrzyk, 2009).In addition, the use of performance poetry can have both individual and community level benefits.

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