Priscilla Dass-Brailsford – Session I

Traumatic lives of African American women living with HIV

Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, DC Campus

HIV/AIDS in the US primarily affects socio-economically disadvantaged communities. African American women represent 64% of new HIV infections, and Washington D.C. experiences the highest incidence of HIV in the U.S., with an incidence rate of 119.8 per 100,000 people (CDC, 2011). The rate of HIV among heterosexual African American women in the poorest sections of Washington, D.C. is over 12%. This study sought to identify and reduce mental health-related barriers to healthcare utilization among women living with HIV (WLWH). Survey data was collected from 120 women. A subsample (n-30) completed a Life History Calendar, engaging them in a qualitative interview. Findings indicate a high incidence of trauma and a co-morbidity of mental health disorders among participants, many of which are untreated or receiving incompetent treatment. Health care providers are in a unique position to support WLWH by referring them for mental health care.