The Four Cs of HIV Prevention with African Americans: Crisis, Condoms, Culture, and Community

Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California-Los Angeles, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1759, USA.
Current HIV/AIDS Reports (Impact Factor: 3.8). 11/2010; 7(4):185-93. DOI: 10.1007/s11904-010-0058-0
Source: PubMed


HIV/AIDS continues to be a devastating epidemic with African American communities carrying the brunt of the impact. Despite extensive biobehavioral research, current strategies have not resulted in significantly decreasing HIV/AIDS cases among African Americans. The next generation of HIV prevention and risk reduction interventions must move beyond basic sex education and condom use and availability. Successful interventions targeting African Americans must optimize strategies that integrate socio-cultural factors and address institutional and historical barriers that hinder or support HIV risk reduction behaviors. Community-based participatory research to decrease the HIV/AIDS disparity by building community capacity and infrastructure and advocating for and distributing equitably, power and resources, must be promoted. Recommendations for paradigm shifts in using innovative theories and conceptual frameworks and for training researchers, clinicians, grant and journal reviewers, and community members are made so that culturally congruent interventions may be tested and implemented at the community level.

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Available from: Gail E Wyatt, Jul 20, 2015
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    • "In order to address the HIV epidemic, innovative research efforts must explore rarely examined factors that may influence sexual risk behaviors [7]. One important variable, experiences of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), has commonly been neglected within HIV prevention despite several studies having linked a history of CSA to a number of sexual health outcomes. "
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    ABSTRACT: HIV prevention has rarely explored the impact of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) across health domains among African American men who have sex with men and women (MSMW). Early sexual experiences may influence perceptions of gender roles, sexual identity, and risks for HIV/AIDS. The attribute of masculinity is commonly associated with strength and success. However, a legacy of racism and oppression may pose challenges for African American men in achieving gender-based milestones. Instead, proxies for success may include masculinity constructs with hypersexual posturing and prowess that contradict sexual health messages. Two groups, each meeting twice for 90-minutes, of HIV-positive African American MSMW participated in discussions focusing on masculinity and sexual experiences. Participants were bisexual HIV-positive African American men who engaged in unprotected sex and had histories of CSA. Discussions were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using consensual qualitative research and a constant comparison qualitative method. Participant mean age was 40.5 years (n=16). Majority had a high school education (69%), half were unemployed, and almost two-thirds earned less than $20,000 annually. Three themes, each with two subthemes, emerged that described the sociocultural context for engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors, and included: 1) the importance of inhabiting a "traditional" masculine gender role with: a) general and b) sexual masculine traits; 2) the influence of conceptions of masculinity on sexual identity with the associations: a) between being gay and being effeminate and b) between being gay and being HIV-positive, and; 3) CSA experiences with: a) appraisal of CSA and b) early sexual experiences as rites of passage. Attempts to be masculine may contribute to high-risk sexual behaviors. Research needs to explore how early sexual experiences shape perceptions of masculinity and masculinity's influence on receiving health messages for African American MSMW who may prioritize a specific image over sexual risk reduction.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research
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    • "Other research finds that culturally tailored HIV prevention interventions should engage community leaders and members, build upon community strengths, and capitalize on cultural pride [32], [36], [69]. Using community leaders for HIV prevention can also help mitigate the heavy stigma often associated with HIV/AIDS [70]–[72]. Understanding faith leaders’ perceived barriers and proactive recommendations for effectively engaging faith institutions in HIV prevention are critical first steps for developing structural and community-based HIV prevention interventions intended to address racial disparities in HIV infection. The positive, proactive, and concrete recommendations presented in this study provide a roadmap that can inform public policy about how to effectively collaborate with African American faith institutions to reduce the United States’ racial disparities in HIV infection. "
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    ABSTRACT: In Philadelphia, 66% of new HIV infections are among African Americans and 2% of African Americans are living with HIV. The city of Philadelphia has among the largest numbers of faith institutions of any city in the country. Although faith-based institutions play an important role in the African American community, their response to the AIDS epidemic has historically been lacking. We convened 38 of Philadelphia's most influential African American faith leaders for in-depth interviews and focus groups examining the role of faith-based institutions in HIV prevention. Participants were asked to comment on barriers to engaging faith-based leaders in HIV prevention and were asked to provide normative recommendations for how African American faith institutions can enhance HIV/AIDS prevention and reduce racial disparities in HIV infection. Many faith leaders cited lack of knowledge about Philadelphia's racial disparities in HIV infection as a common reason for not previously engaging in HIV programs; others noted their congregations' existing HIV prevention and outreach programs and shared lessons learned. Barriers to engaging the faith community in HIV prevention included: concerns about tacitly endorsing extramarital sex by promoting condom use, lack of educational information appropriate for a faith-based audience, and fear of losing congregants and revenue as a result of discussing human sexuality and HIV/AIDS from the pulpit. However, many leaders expressed a moral imperative to respond to the AIDS epidemic, and believed clergy should play a greater role in HIV prevention. Many participants noted that controversy surrounding homosexuality has historically divided the faith community and prohibited an appropriate response to the epidemic; many expressed interest in balancing traditional theology with practical public health approaches to HIV prevention. Leaders suggested the faith community should: promote HIV testing, including during or after worship services and in clinical settings; integrate HIV/AIDS topics into health messaging and sermons; couch HIV/AIDS in social justice, human rights and public health language rather than in sexual risk behavior terms; embrace diverse approaches to HIV prevention in their houses of worship; conduct community outreach and host educational sessions for youth; and collaborate on a citywide, interfaith HIV testing and prevention campaign to combat stigma and raise awareness about the African American epidemic. Many African American faith-based leaders are poised to address racial disparities in HIV infection. HIV prevention campaigns should integrate leaders' recommendations for tailoring HIV prevention for a faith-based audience.
    Full-text · Article · May 2012 · PLoS ONE
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    • "HIV as an ongoing health crisis highlights the need to identify less known potential contributors of the epidemic and intervention strategies, such as exploring the relationships between acute and chronic stress, mental health, sexual behaviors, and physical health outcomes. Mental and physical health, and especially sexual health, is complicated by personal, environmental, historical, and institutional factors (Williams et al., 2010). One potentially important but seriously understudied factor is trauma exposure and associated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric illness that may emerge after a person experiences, witnesses, or is confronted with an event involving actual or perceived threat of death, serious injury, or harm to the physical integrity of self or others (American Psychological Association, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: Biomarker composites (BCs) that objectively quantify psychosocial stress independent of self report could help to identify those at greatest risk for negative health outcomes and elucidate mechanisms of stress-related processes. Here, BCs are examined in the context of existing disease progression among HIV-positive African American men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) with high stress histories, including childhood sexual abuse. Participants (N = 99) collected 12-h overnight and morning urine samples for assay of cortisol and catecholamines (primary BC) and neopterin (an indicator of HIV disease progression). Data on cumulative psychosocial trauma history (severity, types, frequency, age at first incident), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, sexual risk behaviors, and a secondary BC consisting of routine health indicators (heart rate, blood pressure, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio) were also collected. Lifetime trauma exposure was highly pervasive and significantly greater among those meeting a standard cutoff for PTSD caseness (24 %). After controlling for HIV factors (neopterin levels and years with disease), PTSD was a significant (p < .05) predictor of the primary, but not secondary BC. Those with PTSD also had significantly more sexual partners, sex without a condom, and exchange sex for money or drugs than those without PTSD. Specific trauma characteristics predicted PTSD severity and caseness independently and uniquely in regression models (p's < .05-.001). A primary BC appears sensitive to cumulative trauma burden and PTSD in HIV-positive African American MSMW, providing support for the use of BCs to quantify psychosocial stress and inform novel methods for examining mechanisms of stress influenced health behaviors and disease outcomes in at-risk populations.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Journal of Behavioral Medicine
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