234864 Living positive with HIV: Rituals, traditions, and life in community among Puerto Rican men in Boston

Monday, October 31, 2011

Francisco Sastre, MA, MS , Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University, Miami, FL
The presentation will discuss the main findings from a qualitative research examining the impact of an HIV diagnosis in the lives of Puerto-Rican men. While an HIV diagnosis is characteristically associated with negativity, this study investigated the extent to which the collective experience of these men resulted in healthy psychological responses and positive social adjustment. The study's findings are based on the experiences of 50 Puerto Rican men living with HIV in Boston. The analysis found that receiving an HIV diagnosis was a major determinant transforming the social lives of these men. The men internalize the HIV identification and perform it socially in processes that redefine what means to be “HIV-positive” with positive notions, challenging HIV stereotypes and stigma. Specifically, these men describe a unique life in community with peers resulting from the shared experience of living with HIV. The study describes the sense of solidarity and responsibility among these men as well as the rituals and traditions that make up this unique community and set guidelines to minimize health risks and improve their wellbeing. Thus, this community is essential to sustaining positive behaviors and healthy lifestyles among these men to living with HIV as a chronic illness. This knowledge is expected to contribute to improving existing services and develop new ways to support people diagnosed with HIV.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Discuss positive experiences of illness among Puerto Rican men living with HIV; Describe strategies for re-defining the stigmatized social identity of HIV; Identify collective responses to living with HIV to cope with the illness and improve the quality of life.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Latino Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have designed and conducted the research, and analyzed the data of this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.