The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3066.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 8:54 AM

Abstract #65778

Culturally-Competent Mental Health Services for HIV-Infected Haitians Living in Boston, Massachusetts

Eustache Jean Louis, MD, MPH, Center for Community Health, Education & Research, 420 Washington Street, Dorchester, MA 02124, 617-265-0628, and Gemima St. Louis, PhD, Boston University School of Medicine, CAP/BMC, 255 River Street, Boston, MA 02126.

As immigrants or refugees who reside in the United States, Haitian individuals face tremendous barriers as they strive to adapt to a society that is structurally and culturally different from their own. For those who are living with HIV/AIDS, the feelings of shame, stigma, and alienation that they often experience may leave them vulnerable to increased levels of stress, mental illness, and maladaptive psychosocial adjustment.

The number of HIV-infected Haitians who suffer from mental disorders is unknown. However, findings have consistently shown that Haitians are at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Individuals of Haitian descent comprise between 8 and 10% of the total population in Boston in 2000 and as of October 2002, there were 796 cumulative AIDS cases among residents who self-identified Haiti as their country of birth (Massachusetts HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program, 2002). Many Haitian individuals who are living with HIV/AIDS or have a mental disorder may be reluctant to seek medical and mental health services.

CCHER proposes to discuss: (1)the complex psychosocial needs of Haitian individuals who are living with HIV/AIDS; (2) providing culturally-competent and linguistically-appropriate mental health services; (3) comprehensive, traditional/nontraditional psychological and psychiatric services to Haitians who are HIV positive; (4) reducing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and mental illness among Haitians; and (5) promoting greater acceptance of HIV/AIDS and mental health in the Haitian community at large. The model is based on a multi-system approach that is embedded in the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Haitian community.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Mental Health Services, Cultural Competency

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Culture-Specific Mental Health Intervention

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA