HIV and the Latin Community South, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The Problem

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is both a social and medical problem. However, socially, the HIV/AIDS epidemic disrupts the lives of members of a community by causing fear and uncertainty. This disease affects the entire household of the victim. This disease reduces the victims’ ability to work and maintain employment and causes mounting medical debts that often drive the family to poverty and despair. Children are orphaned when their parents fall victim to the epidemic. The children are then left in despair because they are stigmatized, discriminated against, and isolated from society and other family members. Social workers face a daunting challenge as they try to assist the victims and family members of HIV/AIDS .

Why is it a Social Problem?

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a social problem because it affects everyone in one way or another. HIV/AIDS can be passed on from person to person in a number of different ways: through sexual intercourse, sharing injecting needles, blood transfusions, between mother and baby either in the womb or through breast milk. Many of the cases of HIV/AIDS can be linked to lack of knowledge. Many people are unaware of how the disease spreads and how to prevent it. These people are most likely victims of poverty, poor education, and lack of health coverage first. It is the responsibility of everyone to help educate people about HIV/AIDS. Because I am furthering my education, I know how important it is for people to be educated. As a student, I often encounter students who speak another language. These students sometimes perform poorly because of the language barrier. They are unable comprehend others and unable to adequately express themselves.

Who if Affects

            The poorest sectors of society are often the ones most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I believe this is true because the poorest sector of society is often the least educated. When they have to decide between buying some type of literature and paying a bill, they obviously pay the bill first. Because they are unable to see the value in education, they have a decreased value of it. The Center for Disease and Control Prevention estimates that 1,148,200 persons aged 13 years and older are living with HIV/AIDS, including 207,600 who are that they are infected. Hispanics and Latinos account for 21 percent of HIV/AIDS infected individuals in the United States. Hispanic males are 2.9 percent more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than their white counterparts. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 95,000 Hispanics and Latinos have died from the disease. The first case of AIDS in the United States was reported in June of 1981. Scientists were baffled by it and originally thought it was a disease that would only affect gay men. Today, 70 percent of HIV cases are of individuals between the ages of 25 and 49. Twenty-five percent are age 50 and older.  Five percent is aged 13-24. In the United States, more men are infected with the disease than women.

Purpose of Social Workers

            The profession of social work main focus is to empower vulnerable populations. The profession aims to promote social welfare, social change, and social justice. Care and social support for those infected with HIV/AIDS are priorities of social workers. They provide support and leadership to help offset the stigma and discrimination victims of HIV/AIDS are faced with. Social workers must also be aware of acculturation within the Latin culture. One of the social workers most important roles is to break language barriers. Often Latino clients are victims of miscommunication when it comes to understanding about their condition and the medications they are prescribed. The social worker is to present that information to them in terms that they can understand. Also, sex is a taboo issue in the Latino culture. Social workers can aid them in the discussion of sex using “The Sex Check” as a tool to open discussion. “The Sex Check is a one on one telephone-delivered intervention strategy. By listening to the prerecorded conversation it eliminates the embarrassment of facing an actual social worker. Finally, social workers often provide assertiveness training techniques to Latino women clients who are often oppressed in relationships. These trainings help facilitate equality in the relationships (147-149). I don’t believe they have assertive issues; they just fall into traditional roles within the relationships. I believe they are raised to think, act, and live a certain way.

Evaluation of Sources

The article Social Work Practices with Latinos Living with HIV/AIDS discusses how the social work practices within the Latino community differs from the practices of other ethnicities. According to the article there are several factors that make working with Latinos different from working with other ethnicities. Three of them are: their sense of family, their personable nature, and their sense of pride. First, Latinos view themselves intricately connected to their families. Social workers often don’t understand why Latinos are willing to sacrifice themselves for their families. When working with Latinos, social workers need to suspend everything they know about working with other ethnicities. Next, Latinos are not susceptible to cold, impersonal, or highly structured services. They expect professionals to be empathetic and kind. Social workers are encouraged to share some personal information about themselves and their families to make Latinos more comfortable with them. Finally, Latinos are very proud. This prideful way often makes them neglect seeking help. To Latinos, to seek help is a sign of weakness. As a result, social workers are encouraged to ask them about their perspective of pride and respect and treat them accordingly (p. 145-146). Social workers seek to provide preventative measures for Latinos by educating them on the risk factors and how to protect themselves. They also help them to locate free and low cost services that are provided by local health departments and other organizations.

The site I examined was www.latinoaids.org ,which is sponsored by Manos Unidas, seeks to enhance the effectiveness of HIV prevention and interventions that targets Latino communities. They provide services to people who are HIV positive and those who are HIV negative, but have high risk factors for becoming positive. The site has offices in the following areas: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. This organization provides workshops and trainings for individuals from the Latino community in their native language.

I learned

            I’ve learned that one’s culture has a great impact on the way he/she lives and interacts with others. The most interesting thing that I learned about Latinos is that they have a deep belief in black magic. Ironically, the symptoms of HIV/AIDS are very similar to something they call embrujado. It is an erratic stomach ailment that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and severe pain. Latinos equate these symptoms to bewitchment (147). As a result of this belief, often Latinos do not take the medicines given to them to by their doctors. Instead, they seek the advice and treatment of Voodoo priests and spiritual healers. I believe all cultures have their own beliefs about healing. Although some cultures rely more heavily upon spiritual healing than others, I don’t believe that Latino people are very much different from other cultures.

References

Furman, R.; Edwards, K; Jones, A. & Rowan, D. (2008). Social work practice with latinos with hiv/aids. Advances in Social Work, 9, 142-156. www.lationoaids.org. Manos Unidas

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