Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Medical Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Health
Secondary Theme: Resilience
The psychological, sociological, and anthropological consequences of HIV are far-reaching. In an era with improved HIV medical care and enhanced life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART); the transformation of the virus from an “acute deadly illness” to a manageable chronic disease gives rise to discussion about the complex social and structural realities of people living with HIV (PLWH) and pragmatic approaches to addressing HIV-related issues such as stigma, access to care and treatment, housing, employment, and quality of life.
Of the estimated 1.1 million PLWH in the United States, an estimated 85 percent have been diagnosed, 62 percent are linked to care, and 48 percent are retained in care (CDC 2017a). Research shows that structural factors such as inadequate support of individuals’ post-diagnosis, lack of or insufficient access to health insurance, poverty, drug use, homelessness; unemployment/underemployment, and other social determinants of health (Easterwood et al 2015), are among reasons contributing to PLWH not linked to care or retained in care. Receiving HIV care and treatment shortly after testing positive for HIV, (preferably within 30 days) is critical to suppressing vial loads, enhancing life expectancy, and improving overall health outcomes and quality of life.
Data shows that subpopulations including Black men who have sex with men (BMSM); Black women; Latinos; people with opioid addictions; homeless and multiply diagnosed people; and individuals recently released from jail continue to experience challenges accessing care and achieving improved health outcomes (CDC 2017b; Milloy et al 2012). Thus, maintaining momentum in advances towards decreasing HIV-related health disparities and inequalities require implementing innovative and culturally relative intervention models focused on improved health care access and care retention, and enhanced quality of life.
As part of Dissemination of Evidence-Informed Interventions (DEII), funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), HIV/AIDS Bureau, Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Program, this panel comprises scholars whose work examines the sociocultural realities of PLWH in the United States and how they overcome challenges to engage and navigate systems of HIV care. We are interested in advancing the discussion of various forms of resistance, resilience, and adaptive strategies among PLWH. Specifically, panelists explore the use of photovoice in a peer linkage and re-engagement intervention; examine the use of buprenorphine for opioid use disorder and lessons learned in the wake of Hurricane Maria; explain how patient navigation promotes resiliency among Black women engaging the medical system; and explore how PLWH adapt to challenges of unstable housing post-incarceration living in underground storm tunnels of Las Vegas.
Anthropologists and public health practitioners expand scholarship for HIV prevention and treatment by addressing numerous social issues the discipline and communities face through the lenses of ethnographic theory, methodology and praxis in the U.S. This session will promote discussion for future directions of HIV research and policy both inside and outside the discipline of anthropology. What progress is being made towards HIV care and treatment interventions? How do we adequately offer real solutions for linkage, care, and retention among PLWH and to those serving and supporting PLWH?