African American Women and HIV/AIDS: Critical Responses

By Dorie J. Gilbert; Ednita M. Wright | Go to book overview

6
Focus on Solutions: Harlem Dowling—West Side
Center for Children and Family Services:
A Comprehensive Response to Working with
HIV-Affected Children and Families

Melba Butler and Chedgzsey Smith-McKeever

The vast majority of HIV-affected children and adolescents are African American children, most of who experience AIDS within the context of poverty, multiple losses, and societal stigma (Fair, Spencer, Wiener, and Riekert 1995; Lewis 1995; Rotheram-Borus and Stein 1999). These children and their families are also lacking appropriate counseling and support services (Draimin, Hudis, Segura, and Shire 1999; Gilbert 2001). Programs that are able to build on the strengths of the African American family are best equipped to provide familybased mental health and supportive services in order to promote resilience in this population. The purpose of this chapter is to describe one such program, the Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services, a historically Black human services agency that provides a continuum of family based, culturally grounded services to empower HIV-infected parents, their children, and family members. We first provide historical background information and a current description of the agency. Next, a case study is presented to illuminate how a continuum of services based on the strengths perspective can be highly effective in meeting the holistic needs of African American families affected by HIV/AIDS.


AGENCY BACKGROUND AND DESCRIPTION

Harlem Dowling-West Side Center (HDWC) has had a historical presence in the Harlem Community of New York City. The earliest predecessor of HDWC was the Colored Orphan's Asylum, founded in 1836 by two Quaker women in

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