Factors Associated with Employment among Latinos Living with HIV/AIDS

By Burns, Shaun Michael; Young, Lydia R. L. et al. | The Journal of Rehabilitation, January-March 2007 | Go to article overview

Factors Associated with Employment among Latinos Living with HIV/AIDS


Burns, Shaun Michael, Young, Lydia R. L., Maniss, Suzanne, The Journal of Rehabilitation


Recent epidemiological statistics suggest that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) disproportionately affect Latinos in the United States (CDC, 2004). For instance, while Latinos currently constitute 14% of the United States population, they comprise 18% of new HIV and 20% of new AIDS cases (CDC, 2004). Similarly, in 2000 the rate of HIV infection per 100,000 Latinos was 22.5, more than three times that of Whites (CDC, 2002b). Yet, despite these statistics few studies have explored the impact of HIV/AIDS on this population.

With the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapies in 1996, the medical treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) has improved (McReynolds & Garske, 2001). As a result of these improvements and various policy initiatives targeted at enhancing the occupational opportunities of people with disabilities (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990; Ticket to Work and Work Incentives and Improvement Act, 1999), a significant number of PLHA remain in, or return to, the workforce (McReynolds, 1998). For example, Brooks, Martin, Ortiz, and Veniegas (2004) found that 74% of participants who were unable to work due to HIV/AIDS-related disabilities expressed interest in reentering the workforce. Nevertheless, an estimated 45 to 65 percent of PLHA remain unemployed (Cunningham, Andersen, Katz et al., 1999; Vitry-Henry, Penalba, Beguniot, & Deschamps, 1999).

For people living with chronic or life-threatening illnesses employment provides a source of routine, normalcy, and purpose to daily living (Brooks & Klosinski, 1999). According to Koch, Rumrill Jr., Roessler, and Fitzgerald (2001), employment is directly associated with improved psychological and psychosocial functioning for people living with chronic, terminal, and life-threatening illnesses. For instance, prior research suggests employment relates to improved quality of life and self-esteem for patients with illnesses as varied as acute myelogenous leukemia, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and heart disease (De Lima, Strom, Keeting et al., 1997; Paris, Woodbury, Thompson et al., 1993; Reisine, Fifield, Walsh, & Dauser, 2004; Straaton, Maislak, Wrigley et al., 1996).

Many immigrants and racial minorities in the United States experience significant poverty (Denavas-Walt, Proctor, & Lee, 2005). In 2004, for instance, approximately 22% of Latinos living in the United States lived below the poverty level (Denavas-Waltet al., 2005). For members of these populations, employment may represent a critical means of maintaining basic income and materials essential for survival. In one of the few prior studies to explore the association of employment to HIV/AIDS among minority populations, Brooks and colleagues (2004) found that Latinos and African-Americans who were unable to work due to HIV/AIDS-related disabilities were more likely to consider workforce reentry than Caucasians. In an investigation of employment among African-American men and women with HIV/AIDS, Blalock, McDaniel, and Farber (2002) found that many participants remained employed throughout the duration of their illness. In other research, Burns, Young, and Maniss (2006) found that Latinos with HIV/AIDS were six times more likely than Caucasians to be working full or part-time. Unfortunately, these studies are the only research to the authors' knowledge to examine the impact of HIV/AIDS on the employment status of racial minorities. As such, the purpose of the current study was to explore the utility of demographic, health-related, and psychological variables in predicting employment among Latinos living with HIV/AIDS. Given the dearth of research on the influence of HIV/AIDS on the employment status of Latinos, the authors anticipate that this investigation may provide direction for continued rehabilitation research.

Predictors of Employment

Demographic Factors

According to Cherrick, Delate, Skarupski, and colleagues (1999), age may represent an important and understudied predictor of employment for PLHA. …

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