AIDS Prevention and Services: Community Based Research

By Johannes P. Van Vugt | Go to book overview

the spread of the virus and the development of new AIDS cases. Consequently, behavioral research must remain a primary arena of overall AIDS research. Because most extant AIDS prevention approaches were developed outside minority communities and have not proven effective in reaching these populations, there is a critical need for the testing of minority community demonstration efforts. This research should attempt to determine the most effective means of creating the types of behavioral, cultural, social, and political economic changes that will steadily reduce the number of individuals who each day are newly exposed to HIV infection. As suggested by the project described here, an important avenue for community based AIDS demonstration research is the testing of strategies for libratory health education derived from the Freirian approach to pedagogy.


SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

De La Cancela ( 1989) has argued effectively that it is time for minority AIDS prevention to move beyond cultural sensitivity toward sociopolitical empowerment. The Comunidad y Responsibilidad Project was explicitly created with this intention in mind. Building on an awareness of Puerto Rican culture and health-related behavior gained through a decade of organizational effort, as well as an appreciation of culture as a malleable resource that can be mobilized to respond to changing health conditions, the project was designed to develop and implement a culturally congruent AIDS prevention model for the Puerto Rican community. Given the overrepresentation of Puerto Ricans among AIDS patients and continued disparity in AIDS awareness between Hispanics and whites generally, there is critical need for such projects. Equally important, there is a need for the funding to enable the creation of innovative community based approaches to AIDS prevention. However, it is increasingly clear that "perceptions of AIDS as an urgent epidemic . . . are waning" ( Gostin 1990:3). Moreover, there is a sense among AIDS workers that the "golden years" of AIDS funding are over. The AIDS epidemic, by contrast, is not.


NOTE

The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions to the Comunidad y Responsibilidad Project of Felicita Ortiz, Zaida Castillo, Candida Flores, and Mary Ann Gonzalez.


REFERENCES

AIDS Community Research Group. 1988. "AIDS: Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior in an Ethnically Mixed Urban Neighborhood". Special Report to the Connecticut State Department of Health Services, Hartford, CT.

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