The Impact of HIV/AIDS on African American Women and Families

1 November 2017

“A Paradigm Shift: The Impact of HIV/AIDS on African American Women and Families”, running Nov. 2-3 at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, takes a women-centered approach toward HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and reproductive health – something that has rarely been explored, says Gail Wyatt, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and an associate director of the UCLA AIDS Institute.

“There has not been this kind of attention given to HIV positive African American women or women at risk for HIV/AIDs infection for 30 years,” said Wyatt who is helping to spearhead the conference. “We are advocating for women-centered approaches and offering to address reproduction and STIs in the same clinic. We are also advocating for women to conduct research on women. Decades ago this was the goal but now women investigators are underrepresented.”

The rates of HIV infection in black women have remained stagnant, Wyatt said. Yet the same approaches that have been developed for men are still being used with women. These approaches simply do not work for women for a number of reasons—for instance, they don’t address HIV’s effects on reproductive health.

“We need a paradigm shift,” she said. “Services for reproductive health are often not available at an HIV clinic and yet reproduction is a part of a woman’s body.”

Information in HIV clinics only covers HIV and does not address the sexual and reproductive effects that women need to hear, she said.

Read the full article online here.