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Missouri Synod ​so we're going to begin with Raven vegans and I have a bio Raven grew up in a military household which which allowed them to travel the world at a young age this travel naturally due Raven to cultural studies and allowed him to think about the world more critically than ever before Raven also completed a minor and Women and Gender Studies with a particular focus and queer identities and communities outside of academics Raven holds a special place in her heart or in their heart for animals and will start working at various wwo o F worldwide opportunities on organic farms sites this summer their next steps in life are pursuing HIV and STI work in the feet in the near future and continue to live in Chicago with their partner and three-year-old pitbull in Chicago for the next few years in hopes of making this city a place to call home so raven vegans but title is privilege and prevention meaty representations intersectional bias and the public health response to hiv/aids this project explores representations of people living with hiv/aids in the US and looks at the realities of the current state of hiv/aids among the most underrepresented populations black or african-american women through the lens of critical race studies and theories of intersectionality this project argues that the media representations of people living with and dying from hiv/aids have contributed to the widespread misinformation and an assumption that it is a purely gay white man's problem after conducting research and spending nine months on site at a human service agency these representations figured proved to be an important factor limiting the direction of services to this disproportionately affected community this project engages in a larger discourse about the ways public health organizations fail to properly address the realities of hiv/aids within black african-american communities especially among women Chicago Houston social service agency is a nonprofit human service organization that works with people from various backgrounds to help them access numerous services including housing health care and employment originally Chicago House began as a hospice for people living with HIV and AIDS in 1985 in response to the large numbers of people rapidly dying from AIDS related complications because Chicago House was the very first organization of its kind in the Midwest space at their first facility was limited and they were only able to house eight people at a time dedicated Chicago House staff and volunteers supported these residents as they lived out their days their last days in peace their compassionate response to people living with HIV and AIDS allowed residents to be surrounded by those who genuinely cared instead of being left out on the street dudas Chicago houses powerful mission to provide services to LGBTQ HIV and homeless individual seeking assistance I chose to dive into the site and learn more about the work that goes on inside this capstone is a summation of some issues I've noticed Chicago House spaces as a human service agency and how these issues work in relation to local and national problems that greatly affect the populations Chicago House serves for nine months I spent my time at Chicago House as a development and communication departments intern my duties ranged from updating the agency's Facebook and Twitter accounts with new information to attending training sessions for the Chicago House ambassadors program however one of the most interesting and fulfilling tasks I had during my internship was conducted conducting interviews with the handful of people from the agency these interviews were away from me to get a better sense of what people did as well as get a general understanding of how different departments operate I was able to conduct four staff interviews during my time but my first interview has stuck with me the most I spoke with a former HIV testing and case manager about the role she had but the portion of the interview that really struck me was about the participants that she worked with as it turned out most of her participants were black heterosexual woman this was my first introduction to the HIV and AIDS crisis afflicting black and African african-american women the fact that there is such a disproportionate amount of people within this particular population suffering from HIV and AIDS was shocking especially being a black woman myself throughout my life I usually conjured up a person living with HIV and AIDS to be a gay man while some of these men may have been black or Hispanic the image that immediately came to mind was usually a white cisgender man but this was not the case for this employees clients after our interview I cannot help but think about why I had this image in my head the white man as the face of HIV this is where my curiosity started to blossom and my research into this query began the CDC recognizes that black and african-american people account for almost half of all of those who have died from AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic in the United States but there is little evidence of this according to early popular media of representations for instance the widely discussed 2012 documentary how to survive a plague follows the epidemic from the mid 80s to the early 2000s filmmaker David France focuses on the development of activist organizations act up and tag in order to show how influential and radical these groups were in making a case


for people living with and dying from HIV the documentary shows a compilation of footage taken by over 31 credited videographers including many of the activists themselves how to survive a plague does shed an incredible and necessary light on the fight for medical research the affordability of drugs and advocacy for people living with HIV and AIDS and has rightly received such noteworthy admiration from critics and audiences alike however it is problematic that this is one of very few well-known representations for people living with HIV and AIDS that has been so often referenced in recent years although but both act up and tag have focused on advocating for all people living with HIV and AIDS the faces of these organizations as seen through the film are those of white gay men these men were most prominently represented at protests conferences and the media in general which contributed to the white gay male becoming the face of HIV in the United States for a film spanning the history of this epidemic it fails to recognize how HIV and AIDS affected people outside outside of these gay white male communities throughout my internship I repeatedly heard that it was common for people to believe that they were not at risk of contracting HIV because they were not gay or white for instance one instance that stayed with me since our interaction is a story from one of Chicago houses first participants in the ambassador training program Broderick Alexander our 49 year old black man from Chicago spoke about his life story and what led him to affiliating with Chicago House and his story alexander spoke about his struggles with drug addiction and how he came to find out that he had contracted HIV he says quote I heard about HIV and AIDS in 1990 but they were calling it the gay white disease I wasn't gay and I wasn't white so I never thought that this disease was going to impact me at all and Pope Alexander has been living with HIV for several years and deeply regrets not being aware of the risks that he was taking unfortunately Alexander story is one that many other black Americans have to confront at some point in their lives this is especially true for African American women Michelle received Berger's book workable sisterhood the political journey of stigmatized women with HIV and AIDS contains interviews and stories from 16 women mostly women of color living with HIV in the United States Berger focuses more specifically on women with the history in the sex work industry drug use criminal activities sexual assault and other complicated aspects of their lives that verge further marginalize them in a society that quote would make them suspect to the majority of Americans end quote their stories are reflective of how women of color in particular have been systematically left out of the conversation when it came to HIV and AIDS treatment prevention and activism in the early years and still to this day Berger makes connections that realize how identity plays an extremely influential role in the fight against HIV and AIDS she notes quote in fact with HIV and AIDS the HIV and AIDS virus has the capacity to make previously hidden people public groups who are marginalized before for instance gay male communities have come into public view because of the ravages of HIV and AIDS for some however this disease can increase invisibility causing individuals to recede further into marginality and stigmatization end quote intersectional stigma is the term Berger uses throughout the text to explain connections that the woman she spoke with have with one another Berger illustrates why so many why so many saw HIV and AIDS as a white gay male disease the white gay male population although still stigmatized and marginalized by society was quote Sammy simultaneously situated to be able to respond to the crisis and quote burgers analysis recognizes the hierarchical power that white gay males still have despite sexual orientation the fact that these men have sex with other men does not take away from the fact that they are still able to access resources like health care and medical treatment more easily than historically people of color have been and still have trouble accessing because of the disproportionate numbers of people of color living with economic disparities white gay males living with HIV and AIDS at the peak of the epidemic were able to give themselves a voice because of their visibility was still acceptable to the American public these men still have race and gender privilege on their side African American people as a whole are dangerously over-represented in terms of people living with HIV in the United States and even more so as black and African American women while African Americans make up only 12% of the u.s. population in 2011 they accounted for 46 percent of all HIV diagnoses additionally according to the CDC African American women account for 64% of all new infections among women many have tried to explain these high numbers by blaming African American men on the DL the DL also known or which stands for down-low phenomenon is one that has occurred for many years but and who have sex with other men but don't label themselves as gay or bisexual do you see the strong stigmas attached attached to these labels and risks of criticism from community members according to this explanation many men on the DL tend to find themselves involved in heterosexual and relationships and/or still continue having sex with women but the women in these relationships are unaware that their partners are engaging in sex with other men hence the term down-low being that black and African American MSM in the United States are the most affected by HIV this connection seems to seems like a direct correlation to the high HIV rates among black and african-american women however it merely points the finger at men black men instead of critiquing the public health systems lack of properly addressing this problem the hiv/aids epidemic within black communities in America must be looked at as a failure of


the public health system because many members of our American society are unable to access the resources necessary to get tested for various STI s these individuals are in turn left without access to the knowledge of importance of getting tested or even though that they're at risk for infections the critique should not be on the people within these communities but rather refocus on the ways of public health organizations look at these statistics and interprets them people are in need of resources that allow them to get regularly tested for STS education on the risks of risky sex practices and the ability to receive medical treatment if they test positive for any of these ailments well it may be sensational to talk about Madonna DL it distracts from the bigger problem and reiterates the same stereotype of blaming black men for ruining the relationships and black communities as I point out in the longer version of this paper scholars and critical race studies have also started to consider the implications of their theories and arguments for public health the American Journal for public health for instance published its first article on critical race theory in order to provide public health communities with a resource to gain better understanding for the complexities of race relations in their fear the Center for Public Health critical rate race practice was created with the goal in mind of quote going beyond merely documenting the inequalities in order to explain and challenge the power hierarchies that under grid them and quote and their first article they sought to understand whether racism related factors were potential barriers to african-americans obtaining readily available routine HIV testing as recommended by the CDC and they have also made great strides in taking the lead in critiquing the public health communities lack of acknowledging the cultural differences and needs of different communities particularly in black communities while Chicago House is not a public health facility it does connect people to them they have recognized that black and african-american women are in need of a particular focus but there is yet to be a specific focus of this population in terms of programming at the agency however the staff in the kinetic hair and scattered site programs at Chicago House notice that their biggest challenges as an organization is retaining women with new diagnosis and care just this year the agency started a new support group for women living with HIV called xi+ this is a huge step in the right direction because the agency is attempting to create a space for women living with HIV and adding them to the equation moreover because Chicago House is specifically acknowledging this population they're helping break down the stigma of HIV as an exclusively gay white male problem it would be great for the agency to take a look at where Chicago House has come from as an organization that once service the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS specifically and see what portion of that populations needs have yet to be perfectly appropriately met in order to take the lead and address them however that would also call for reprogramming reprogramming and restructuring the programs are already in place Chicago House is by no means a perfect human service agency but they are taking steps to be more inclusive and addressing the needs of all the people they serve this experience has shown me of the ways that theories of intersectionality and race critical race studies can have a profound impact when applied to something as important as public health I'm extremely extremely grateful that they had the opportunity to work at Chicago House and see what it was like to put theory into practice Touro Law Center.

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