Working with African-born, HIV-positive women at a community health center in Chester, Pennsylvania, Kimberly McClellan, EdD ʼ18, MSN ʼ06, CRNP, WHNP-BC, FNP-BC, BSN ʼ04, saw the isolation and despair caused by the crushing stigma that AIDS carries in African culture.

“I have seen African-born women with HIV who would rather stay away from HIV care and die than experience social death from exposure,” says McClellan, assistant clinical professor and interim chair of Drexelʼs advanced practice nursing department.

A Communal Approach to Care

The experience moved her to team with the African Family Health Organization in Philadelphia to create Promise Keepers, a community of practice that provides communal support and care for African women with HIV in the metropolitan area.

“I truly believe that the ability to achieve wellness, access care and enjoy perceived support should not be rationed only to those populations that acclimate to the culture of the majority,” says McClellan, who facilitates the group.

Teaching Others

McClellan hopes that Promise Keepersʼ life-changing impact will increase.

“Women in the group want to go out and teach other Africans in this country and back in Africa. They want this model of care and support to grow and blossom,” she says. “They want what they have in small numbers to get to many other Africans living in this city, this country and living abroad.”