HIV/AIDS Inequality: Structural Barriers to Prevention, Treatment, and Care in Communities of Color
The National HIV Strategy, and Implementation Plan, put forth by the Obama administration two years ago, acknowledges the role of structural factors in perpetuating the alarming rates of HIV/AIDS that we see in communities of color and among men who have sex with men. By recognizing that the impact of HIV is not colorblind or class-blind, the strategy begins an important, forward thinking, conversation. Yet, beyond this, insufficient progress has been made in developing and implementing structural interventions that would mitigate the social determinants laid out in this brief.
Just as solutions must recognize inequalities among communities in terms of HIV risk, such solutions must also account for the underlying source of these inequalities. The source is not behavioral differences, but rather structural factors. Therefore, behavioral solutions, while effective, alone will not suffice to curb the gross disparities.
We must take a holistic approach to dramatically reduce the racial inequities in the incidence rates and outcomes of people living with HIV/AIDS. Moreover, it is incumbent upon the administration to aggressively execute the tenants laid out in the Implementation Plan in order to do so. Community-based health organizations must also focus on the holistic health and wellness of their clients in order to boost outcomes.
Acknowledging the structural barriers is just a first step, eliminating them will require the development of tangible intervention models that are implemented across agencies in addition to a sustained focus on behavioral interventions. This comprehensive approach is the only way we will begin to bridge the gap for communities of color.