December 1 marks World AIDS Day, a day to recommit, remember and renew the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. You can use the day to commemorate loved ones who have been infected or impacted by HIV/AIDS, or to spread the word about the importance of knowing your status or by grabbing a friend to go get tested. Because a critical factor in decreasing the rates of AIDS is related to HIV testing, much work is done to raise awareness and educate people about the facts regarding HIV, while reducing stigma around testing. This work is particularly crucial in minority communities, which have experienced disproportionately higher rates of HIV/AIDS. Efforts have taken many forms, with more recent forays into digital storytelling, using personal narratives and people from these impacted communities to champion the importance of testing and education.
OMHRC senior program analysts took a moment to talk about projects resulting from their work with different community-based organizations and gatekeepers.
Henry Ocampo Discusses Fighting Stigma Through Digital Storytelling
While Native Hawaiians and Asian Pacific Islanders represent 0.4 percent of the total population in the United States, the AIDS case rate was twice that of the white population in 2010. In that same year, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV infection, as compared to the white population. Much more is known about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS and medical advances have shown to prolong health. However, lingering issues of stigma still remain. Henry Ocampo shares about the efforts to reduce stigma and share the stories from the community through the power of digital storytelling . Read Q & A Fighting Stigma
Evonne Bennett-Barnes Talks Raising Awareness and HIV Testing
The impact of HIV on Native communities has not gone unnoticed. American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have a 30 percent higher rate of AIDS and HIV infection than the white population. Despite this impact, HIV has not dampened the rich culture of Native communities. Evonne Bennett-Barnes took a moment to discuss two videos featuring voices from the community that were created to target topics of HIV testing and the role the provider experience plays in HIV care and treatment. Read Q & A on Efforts to Raise Awareness about HIV
Challenging Myths and Misconceptions OMHRC's Margaret Korto interviews Dr. Ijeoma Otigbuo
Decades into the fight against AIDS, myths and misconceptions continue to challenge prevention and treatment efforts. For African immigrants with HIV and AIDS, navigating the complex maze of the U.S. health care system can be daunting, and agencies tasked with providing services and support often don't understand African cultures or the needs of their clients. When common beliefs bump up against medical science, the result can be mistrust and resistance to intervention and treatment.
But there are effective ways to help clients challenge those beliefs in a culturally sensitive way and strengthen the patient-provider relationship, says Ijeoma Otigbuo, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Director of the AIDS Awareness Resource Center at Montgomery College in Maryland. Dr. Otigbuo works with the Center on Health Disparities at Adventist HealthCare's BEAT IT! project, which provides training to assist healthcare providers in delivering culturally appropriate care. (BEAT IT! stands for Becoming Empowered Africans through Improved Treatment of Diabetes, Hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS and was funded through an award from the Office of Minority Health Resource Center). Read Q & A on Challenging Myths and Misconceptions
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