HIV/AIDS in African-Americans in the Southern United States: South Tampa Community in Florida
HIV/AIDS is one of the diseases that contribute to increased mortality among various populations. It does not only cause immense suffering to infected people, but also to affected individuals, such as orphans and widows. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2016a) indicates that 44% of the infected in the country are from the Southern United States. Further, the CDC (2016a) ascertains that among these people, African-Americans constitute 54% (p. 1). Consequently, the disease has resulted in the increased utilization of resources to manage it. For instance, in Florida, the total Medicaid spent on enrollees with HIV/AIDS is $549,714,287 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2011, p. 1). This paper examines the HIV/AIDS epidemic among African-American gay men in South Tampa, Florida, focusing on the population affected, its characteristics, social and ethical considerations, essential components of healthcare, as well as effective methods the health care system can use to help the community, and finally, it provides health messages to this group.
The Population Affected
The population chosen for this paper includes young African-American gay males from median income families in the South Tampa community in Florida. They are of ages ranging from 13 to 25 years. In spite of the existence of other ways in which HIV/AIDS spreads, sexual contact remains the most common. According to Shedden (2015), young black men who have sex with their fellow men in South Tampa are at a greater risk of contracting the HIV infection. This group is the most vulnerable because most of its representatives live with HIV/AIDS and experience stigma that further prevents them from seeking appropriate interventions to alleviate the symptoms of the disease (Smit et al., 2012). According to the Florida Department of Health (2013), black men constitute 44% of all cases of HIV/AIDS among gays, which is higher than rates for other races (p. 1).
Social Factors That May Influence the Burden of the Disease
Despite the disease causing a significant burden to the U.S. population, some social factors exist among black gay young males, which can contribute to it. For instance, Amirkhanian (2014) argues that a sexual network, which is one of the primary sources of social support among the gay culture, predisposes gay men to the HIV/AIDS infection. Additionally, polyamory, a gay culture where one can engage in various sexual relationships, may make young men vulnerable to HIV/AIDS leading to a greater disease burden. Moreover, religion can increase the latter as well. For instance, Calimlim (2013) asserts that the negative attitude of the church towards gays prevents them from opening up about their problems. Such behavior can make young men living with HIV/AIDS withhold vital information about their condition thereby increasing the disease burden.
When focusing on implementing prevention programs, it is paramount to consider some ethical issues that may be significant in the process. For instance, Smit et al. (2012) argue that HIV-infected gay men often experience the stigma of discrimination. Consequently, they may not be able to give immediate consent to the efforts necessary for the prevention of the disease. Additionally, Gato, Fontaine, and Carneiro (2012) argue that most people in society view being gay as a nature that goes against social norms. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure privacy and confidentiality when dealing with young gay men to make sure that they elicit valuable information that may be critical in prevention measures.
Components of Healthcare System that Can Assist the Community
The most suitable healthcare components that can help young black men infected with HIV/AIDS in South Tampa are primary healthcare facilities, such as Tampa Family Healthcare Center. Additionally, such private medical centers as BayCare Urgent Care can be instrumental in managing various problems of gays (Florida Department of Health, 2013). Healthcare providers in such facilities can listen to the latter and keep the information confidential to ensure adequate privacy. Moreover, public health officials can implement surveillance to check on the prevalence of the disease in the community. If patients experience problems beyond the scope of primary care, health care providers can refer them to advanced facilities, such as Tampa General Hospital, which can further manage their conditions (Florida Department of Health, 2013).
Methods That the Healthcare System Should Use to Assist the Community
HIV/AIDS is incurable, and thus, preventive efforts are paramount in addressing its prevalence. Additionally, promoting the acceptance of the disease and facilitating the commitment to seek care can improve its management. According to Cahill, Valadéz, and Ibarrola, (2013), community-based prevention programs are essential because they focus on communities. They also help to reduce homophobia in the latter. The CDC (2016b) further ascertains that doing counseling and testing can help change the risky sexual behavior among gay men. Therefore, the healthcare system should utilize these methods to curb the infection.
Message to Black Gay Young Men in South Tampa
The most appropriate message is to focus on behavior changes and an improvement in men’s health-seeking behavior. Regarding the first recommendation, it is paramount to teach the population on being faithful or using protection every time they have sex with other person. Additionally, they should avoid putting themselves at risk of sharing sharp instruments, which have contributed to the spread of the disease (Awoleye & Thron, 2015). Finally, young black gay men should check their HIV/AIDS status every time because it is the most appropriate way of initiating therapy early once one notices that he or she has it.
HIV/AIDS causes significant problems to many people. Young Africa-American gay men in South Tampa Florida are among such groups that need proper care. They can visit primary care facilities and utilize public health officers in managing their conditions. Further, healthcare providers should consider ethics and privacy to facilitate proper health seeking behavior. Consequently, young men can embrace proper health habits.