My health topic for this activity post as well as for my final blog will be HIV/ AIDS in Jamaican women. Early in the 21st century, over 4.3 million people had been reported to be newly infected with HIV (Gillespie-Johnson, 2008). Many have heard stereotypes about how this all had arised from homosexuality or from some type of monkey encounter, but these topics are not by any means truly accountable for the actual terrifying spread that has taken place in the last few decades. This pandemic has continually affected the entire world, but it seems to have always had a bigger impact on African Americans and women. Around 2006, we are talking about percentages as high as 50% for both African American and for women respectively (Gillespie-Johnson, 2008). A cultural issue that arises here is that HIV/AIDS data is not usually classified specifically for Jamaicans, instead it is classified broadly to African Americans. This makes it so Jamaican culture, values and beliefs are thrown out the window. This also makes it difficult for the US healthcare system to provide care because many factors of the Jamaican subgroup are still unknown.
It is apparent that many stigmas are thrown aside to why AIDS/ HIV are still killing many people in general, but, what a lot of people do not keep in mind is that the reason why AIDS/ HIV spreads is beyond just being irresponsible. It has been shown that most Jamaican women who have HIV/ AIDS in a variety of studies have been analyzed to actually be fully aware of proper prevention (Gillespie-Johnson 2008). To start, this can be a cultural issue. Many Jamaican women have religious beliefs that deter them from utilizing condoms or from talking about the issue in the first place while others belief that the infected are simply being punished by God (Gillespie-Johnson, 2008). This is why it is important to empower through intervention in a culturally sensitive way. Another real issue is that these women did not exactly know how to negotiate with their partners. There were many Jamaican women who actually were just terrified of the consequences of taking preventive measures. For example, there were many Jamaican women that had feared physical and mental abuse as well as feared losing their relationships over simple discussions such as using a condom (Gillespie-Johnson, 2008).
This problem has been elevated through migration, lack of education, poverty as well as through cultural barriers (Gillespie-Johnson 2008). It makes sense that a lot of the people that spread HIV/ AIDS are people that either do not know how to prevent as well as from people that simply cannot ask for help. Think about sex workers for instance. Why would you attempt to ask for help if your work is considered illegal? If anything, steps should be taken to offer amnesty. Something kind of like medical amnesty where the underage, or in this case the infected, are not afraid to get help. For example, red light districts could be identified so public health authorities can advocate preventive measures more effectively (Bailey & Figueroa, 2015). These are not simple issues! Studies have shown that there are four categories of mediating factors each with a handful of sub factors that integrate from them (Logie, Lacombe-Duncan, Wang, Jones, Levermore, Neil & Newman, 2016). These four mediating factors are risk perception, relationship intimacy, perceived control and sex work environment (Logie, Lacombe-Duncan, Wang, Jones, Levermore, Neil & Newman, 2016).
To top it off, relentless attitudes have been opinionated towards many who are infected. Moreover, sympathy has been shown to be directed towards different subgroups. Sex worker Jamaican females got less sympathy than non sexworker Jamaican females (Norman, Carr & Jimenez, 2006) . Transgender Jamaican women have been noted to be treated poorly as well. I believe that these prejudice issues help explain why so many Jamaican women are afraid to take preventive measures in the first place. Is it coincidence that as HIV has spread in Jamaica, these negative attitudes have amplified (Bailey & Figueroa, 2015). In my opinion, this is dictated by both the person with the opinion as well as by the infected individual themself. To start, it has been shown how empathy varies based on where the infected individual “belongs” to (Bailey & Figueroa, 2015). Meaning that if we want to make strides toward progress, it is important to note that target-specific messages/ interventions would be optimal. Moreover, these messages can be integrated into future programs to mediate the problem (Logie, Lacombe-Duncan, Wang, Jones, Levermore, Neil & Newman, 2016). The issue has definitely been addressed since the beginning of the 21st century, but by no means is the topic yet negligible. Jamaica is still making progress on fulfilling Millenium Development Goals (MDG) to reduce the prevalence of HIV(Current Health Issues and Progress in Jamaica, 2018).
Bailey, A., & Figueroa, J. P. (2015). A Framework for Sexual Decision-Making Among Female Sex Workers in Jamaica. Archives of Sexual Behavior,45(4), 911-921. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0449-1
Current health issues and progress in Jamaica. (2018). Retrieved July 23, 2018, from http://www.commonwealthhealth.org/americas/jamaica/current_health_issues_and_progress_in_jamaica/&p=DevEx.LB.1,5552.1
Gillespie-Johnson, M. (2008). HIV/AIDS PREVENTION PRACTICES AMONG RECENT-IMMIGRANT JAMAICAN WOMEN. Ethnicity & Disease, 18(2 Suppl 2), S2–175–8.
Logie, C. H., Lacombe-Duncan, A., Wang, Y., Jones, N., Levermore, K., Neil, A., . . . Newman, P. A. (2016). Prevalence and Correlates of HIV Infection and HIV Testing Among Transgender Women in Jamaica. AIDS Patient Care and STDs,30(9), 416-424. doi:10.1089/apc.2016.0145
Norman, L. R., Carr, R., & Jiménez, J. (2006). Sexual stigma and sympathy: Attitudes toward persons living with HIV in Jamaica. Culture, Health & Sexuality,8(5), 423-433. doi:10.1080/13691050600855748