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Open Access Engaging black sub-Saharan African communities and their gatekeepers in HIV prevention programs: Challenges and strategies from England

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Objective: HIV infection is a sensitive issue in black communities [Serrant-Green L. Black Caribbean men, sexual health decisions and silences. Doctoral thesis. Nottingham School of Nursing, University of Nottingham; 2004]. Statistics show black sub-Saharan African (BSSA) communities disproportionately constitute two-thirds of people with HIV [Heath Protection Agency. Health protection report: latest infection reports-GOV.UK; 2013]. African communities constitute 30% of people accessing HIV treatment in the United Kingdom yet represent less than 1% of the population [Health Protection Agency. HIV in the United Kingdom: 2012 report; 2012], [Department of Health. DVD about FGM. 2012. Available from fgm@dh.gsi.gov.uk.]. This article explores the sociocultural challenges in engaging BSSA communities in HIV prevention programs in England and possible strategies to improve their involvement.

Methods: Twelve focus group discussions and 24 semistructured interviews were conducted in a 2-year period with participants from the BSSA communities and sexual health services in the West Midlands, England. The research was supported by the Ubuntu scheme, a sexual health initiative working with African communities in Birmingham, England.

Results: Ineffective engagement with African communities can hinder the effectiveness of HIV prevention programs. Skills and strategies sensitive to BSSA culture are important for successful implementation of prevention programs. HIV prevention programs face challenges including stigma, denial, and marginalized views within BSSA communities.

Conclusion: Networking, coordination, and cultural sensitivity training for health professionals are key strategies for engaging BSSA communities in HIV prevention programs.
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Keywords: African communities; HIV prevention; gatekeepers

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH) is an open-access journal focusing on subjects that are common and relevant to family medicine/general practice and community health. The journal publishes relevant content across disciplines such as epidemiology, public health, social and preventive medicine, research and evidence based medicine, community health service, patient education and health promotion and health ethics. The journal has a specific focus on the management of chronic illness particularly diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic heart failure, hypertension, bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and common mental illness. FMCH is published by Compuscript http://www.compuscript.com on behalf of the Chinese General Practice Press http://www.chinagp.net.

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