|Salon owners Nelson Urraca and Hermione Fraser of Brooklyn|
In partnership with the SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s School of Public Health, ‘Barbershop Talk With Brothers’ teaches men and women in barber’s chairs in Central Brooklyn about their general health, and how their sexual health can impact others. Women can get information about their health and risk at their local salons with their wash and set. The program creates a safe space for people to have conversations that can only be had with people they really trust—the ones who do our hair.“You can reach everyone you want to reach in the community at the barber shop or the salon,” says Brignel Camilien, who coordinates the program. “It’s the perfect venue to reach people without mistrust.”
Barbers and stylists in the 9 shops currently enrolled in this phase of the program receive training to have health conversations with their clients and basically serve as a conduit for health knowledge within the community. They are not paid, so it’s done purely for the love and preservation of the community that they do this work. And it’s working.
Hermione Fraser, owner of Hermie’s salon in Brooklyn, in business for 40 years, says,
“Working with the Institute has been a promising experience for my clients because they learn what to ask when they go to the doctor. I also get a lot of knowledge. The Breast Cancer Awareness Session was the most memorable because I had a client who attended the session and got tested after. She then found out she had breast cancer and was able to get ahead of it. Today, she’s doing okay.”
Nelson Urraca, 30-year owner of Nelson’s Barbershop, sums up his relationship with the Institute in three words, “knowledgeable, joyful, and hopeful.” While Elaine Richards, owner of Royal Ambiance Salon says that the most important program that the institute has provided thus far would be the HIV/AIDS program. “The experience influenced the young people the most because they have become more cautious when having sex because they understand more now,” she explains.
the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS, more than 498,400 are