HIV Knowledge and Attitudes among African Refugee Women

Gloria Aidoo-Frimpong and Samantha  Auerbach

Gloria Aidoo-Frimpong presenting on research on HIV knowledge among US based African refugee women.

Gloria Aidoo-Frimpong presenting on research on HIV knowledge among US based African refugee women

Graduate Student Project

Introduction

Imagine having you leave your home in the middle of the night with only the clothes on your back with little time to say goodbye to your loved ones. Now imagine being in a country where everything is new to you; the language, the food, the culture, to mention a few. This is the experience of refugees.

My name is Gloria Aidoo-Frimpong, a second-year Ph.D. student in the Community Health and Health Behavior department at UB. This past fall with Dr. Kafuli Agbemenu as my mentor, I analyzed data exploring HIV and reproductive health beliefs among African refugee women.

African refugees are a growing population, with over 263,662 refugees residing in the US. Despite the increase in population size,  African refugees and immigrants are one of the medically underserved populations. Also, African refugees and immigrants have an HIV transmission rate six times higher than any other minority group in the US. Considering the high HIV rate, healthcare needs, and the low representation in literature, we chose to examine an even more vulnerable subset of the African immigrant population-African refugee women. We selected African refugee women in Buffalo, New York, due to the large refugee population found in this area. By exploring the HIV knowledge and beliefs of the women, we hope to design community-based interventions to increase the knowledge of HIV and decrease stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs towards HIV.

Abstract

Background: Buffalo, New York, is one of the leading refugee resettlement areas in the country, settling 94% of African refugees in 2014. However, little is known about their health beliefs, particularly regarding HIV. This study's purpose was to describe HIV attitudes and beliefs in a sample of African refugee women, a population that is increasingly present in the country, yet seldom represented in the literature.

Methods: A convenience sample of 101 African refugee women were recruited via snowball technique in Buffalo. Data were collected from July 2017- July 2018, via paper-pen survey, and were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: Participants had low levels of education, but high HIV screening rates.  Inconsistencies between knowledge of HIV acquisition and behaviors relating to HIV infected individuals may indicate HIV stigma among the population.

Conclusions: Novel strategies geared toward educational levels and societal norms to educate African refugee women about HIV are urgently needed.

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