Capacity Building Trainings
There are two capacity building trainings scheduled for 2011, which will specifically address the needs of organizations serving the African immigrant population. The two training sites for this year are Chicago and Oakland, California.
Many African immigrants do not understand how the U.S. health care system works. Organizations and service providers struggle with the dual tasks of providing accurate and helpful information and referrals, and keeping their agencies afloat. To the Project's surprise, there was an eager participation of leaders within African churches and mosques. Their willingness to work with the Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC), embrace health care information, follow-up on recommendations for their congregation, and their readiness to engage in capacity building activities meant the project had established and improved its legitimacy within African immigrant communities.
- Develop and deliver workshops in critical need areas identified during the needs assessment meetings.
- Increase visibility and sustainability of agencies serving African immigrant and refugee HIV+ clients.
- Advance the knowledge and capacity of African immigrant and refugee serving organizations.
- Create a sense of affinity for agencies working with African immigrants and refugees by offering information and opportunities to network
The OMHRC African Immigrant Project focuses on increasing the capacity of organizations providing HIV prevention, testing, and care services to African immigrants and refugees living in the United States.
African immigrants are hesitant to trust or do not understand the health care information presented to them, therefore equipping the agencies that work with them with pertinent information makes it easier for these agencies to successfully address the health care needs of the African immigrant. The dynamics of providing health, prevention, care and educational services to immigrant populations can be dizzying. As community based organizations, AIDS service organizations, state health departments and faith organizations address the challenges of trying to serve these populations, they constantly seek assistance in meeting and improving their responsibilities.
African Data Work Group
African Data Work Group was formed in response to changing demographic and epidemiological realities within the United States. African Americans who make up approximately 12.4% of the entire population were also reported to account for 49% of the HIV/AIDS cases in 2007. In spite of the many diverse and multi-faceted crusades for health and wellness against HIV and AIDS, the rate of infection among Blacks in America has been growing exponentially.
However, this epidemiological reality obscures a glaring fact: most often, federal, state and local demographic and epidemiological data aggregate African-Americans and African immigrants into the same "black" category. Without disaggregated data, it is difficult to advocate for, plan and implement health-related initiatives (and allied resources and personnel) that reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of African immigrant populations.
Goals of African Data Work Groups:
- Facilitate the sharing of accurate, in depth, and organized data on African immigrants and refugees residing in the United States in order to ensure cultural and linguistic appropriateness for future programs.
- Facilitate the sharing of information on effective prevention and care services offered to African immigrants and refugees for easy access by stakeholders.
- Highlight the gaps in knowledge and information/data on African immigrants so as to inform advocacy efforts to establish epidemiological data goals and increase the federal dialogue regarding efforts to provide better services to African immigrants living in the United States.
Expected outcome of ADWG
Develop a Policy Brief/White Paper on suggested steps and salient issues impacting data collection of African Immigrants and Refugees impacted by HIV and AIDS in the United States.
African HIV/AIDS anti-stigma curriculum
For over 25 years, stigma has been a serious barrier to HIV prevention and care. The effects of stigma make it impossible for HIV positive individuals to access testing, counseling, diagnosis, care, treatment, prevention and can create an environment where people may avoid HIV-related services. Fear of discrimination has forced many to seek HIV testing and treatment services only when they were already very sick, well after the point when medical interventions would be most effective. Even when people find the courage to access care, adherence becomes a struggle in a world where being HIV positive is not socially acceptable and only limited support is available. Often HIV positive individuals get so concerned about being publicly identified that they stop taking their medication, may seek care far from where they live for fear of being seen, or due to concerns that doctors or nurses in their own community might let their status be made known to the public. Poor young African women are at risk for depression, and those who are from an ethnic minority group are particularly unlikely to get care. Few U.S. born Africans seek care from mental health facilities. Little is known about the mental health service utilization of immigrant black women from Africa.
According to a 2008 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and conducted in several States, up to 41% of diagnoses in women occurred among African-born individuals. Another study, published by Sociological Research Online in August 2010, found that Africans living with HIV in the U.S. experienced "interpersonal, internalized and institutional" stigma. The need for an African HIV anti-stigma curriculum is of essence.
The goal of this curriculum
Provide researched-based information on HIV /AIDS and to address the societal and cultural stigma surrounding the people living with HIV (PLWHIV).
- Supply culturally appropriate accurate information to people living with HIV (PLWHIV), their families, their care-givers and their support group leaders on the causative organism of AIDS and describe the processes through which HIV/AIDS is transmitted.
- Provide accurate information for people living with HIV (PLWHIV), their families, their care-givers and their support group leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary for dealing with sensitive cultural and societal issues such as stigma and discrimination.
- Offer health care professionals the necessary skills that will enable them to become teacher leaders and group leaders for facilitating workshops, classes and individual counseling sessions.
- Develop strategic modules to combat stigma and discrimination.
A culturally appropriate anti-stigma curriculum that uses African culture to explain the difficulty in addressing HIV within the African context. This can be used as a teaching tool for those who work with the African Immigrant population in the United States.