Free «Case Study of the People of Haitian Heritage» Essay Sample

Haiti is a mountainous country located in the Caribbean subtropics. The culture here has a considerable impact on the day-to-day activities. For example, inasmuch as it is not legal, about ten percent of the men here have more than one wife at a given period of time. The community, however, acknowledges this as being legitimate. Extramarital affairs are commonplace, and this has played a huge role in the spread of HIV virus in the community. This paper explores the issues of homosexuality and the HIV virus and the reactions from the Haitian community.

Cultural Views on Homosexuality

According to Yves Lecomte, a Professor in the University of Quebec, who specializes in Haitian issues, homosexuality to the Haitians has “not been well explored” and remains concealed since it is termed as an aberration to this society. As a result, very few have made their homosexuality status public (Dévieux et al, n.d.). The LGBT community in Haiti has faced criticism in the recent past, especially from the pulpit and over the radio and as a result, there has been an increase in harassment owing to displacement and life in flimsy shelters. Consequently, most of the members of this community live their lives closeted; the double life is demoralizing but necessary. To illustrate, Ralph, a homosexual, was once visited by a male friend, and after escorting him to the bus stop, he was beaten on his way back. When Ralph reported this to the police, they did not consider his case, telling him that “if you are gay, then they have enough reason to ruffle you up” (Michel & Bellegarde-Smith, 2006).

Lesbians and gays are often discriminated in the health facilities and abandoned by their families. On the way to school, they are beaten. As a result, this makes them hide their real nature inasmuch as it is not criminal. Homosexuality is legal in Haiti, but the people owing to their mostly Christian culture do not tolerate it. Violence toward homosexuality in Haiti is rare, though there have been incidences of homosexuals being burnt alive. The fact of the matter is that there is no law that protects those that openly declare their homosexual/lesbian statuses. As such, many of the relationships are undetected since women’s closeness is acceptable in nature while the men invoke family ties (Michel & Bellegarde-Smith, 2006).

Reaction toward HIV Status from Religious and Traditional Parents

Owing to the prevalent discrimination against people living with AIDS in Haiti, it is likely that Ronald’s parents will discriminate and stigmatize him. The stigmatization that is associated with HIV and AIDS has become underpinned by many factors, including little or no understanding of the illness, lack of access to proper treatment, irresponsible reporting by the media regarding the disease, as well as the misconceptions regarding how it is transmitted (Beck & Holland, 2006).

This stigma often leads to the discrimination and the violation of human rights for the people living with HIV/AIDS, which affects their well-being in fundamental ways. It means that more people would be unwilling to seek help when they learn of their status, many would not disclose their status even to loved ones since it makes them subject to discrimination and become vulnerable to blame as well as self-imposed isolation (Michel & Bellegarde-Smith, 2006).

Since Ronald’s parents are religious and traditional, it would not augur well with him. The disclosure would lead to bigger stigmatization from both the community and the parents; this makes it very difficult when it comes to seeking proper treatment, support, and care. The non-disclosure patterns in Haiti even at the family level leads to the lack of forward planning, leaving loved ones and other bereaved economically dependent after the breadwinner succumbs to HIV/AIDS menace (Dévieux et al, n.d.).

Culturally Congruent Strategies in Designing HIV-Prevention Practices

Gender Distribution in the Population

The gender distribution of almost 2:1 ratio of men to women needs to be addressed when designing the HIV-prevention strategies that are aimed at meeting the women’s needs (Dévieux et al, n.d.). Since the culture of Haiti is dominated by men, the women who are dependent on the men economically and emotionally are not empowered enough to make decisions regarding issues like the use of protection. This is evident in the data reports on the AIDS surveillance that show increased HIV infections among the women and young ones, which highlights the HIV epidemic course in the Haiti communities (Krain & Fitzgerald, 2005).

 

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These power imbalances in sexual relationships as well as the increase in HIV infection cases among women show that in order to control the spread of the HIV virus, there needs to be a total change in the social norms more so at the community level. Norms like men dominating the decisions regarding sexual practices lead to increased cases of female HIV infections (Michel & Bellegarde-Smith, 2006).

The Role of Religion

The high emphasis that is placed by the Haitian people on religion has had its share of implications on the design of health services supporting this value. The medical professionals that serve in the Haitian communities ought to be sensitive to the cultural and religious beliefs, and in place of invalidating beliefs, they ought to provide medical treatment as an alternative source to use in maintaining or restoring health (Boesten & Poku, 2009). In general, previous studies in the prevention of HIV in the Haitian community has shown the importance of being culturally competent in the Haitian’s utilization of the HIV services as well as the subsequent compliance with this treatment (Dévieux et al, n.d.).

Owing to the high probability of the response biases in the self-reported behaviors of this community, it is very difficult to identify or determine the risk levels in the Haitian community. Studies have shown that many do not know how to discuss their sexual history with the current partners, and when they eventually start discussing it, most of them hide the truth from their partners. Therefore, there can be an assumption that the risk behavior in this community is more prevalent as compared to the revelation done by the survey data (Krain & Fitzgerald, 2005).

Behavioral Risk Taking even with High Knowledge Levels

There have been findings that the high levels of knowledge has not been commensurate with the behavioral changes in the prevention of HIV transmission in the Haitian communities. The research shows that education and information are vital but not sufficient to foster behavioral change. The service providers ought to recognize that despite the increased knowledge of the masses, there is no corresponding transition to the protective behavior against the spread of the HIV virus. It has been emphasized that one of the many failures of education regarding prevention is the thought that individuals are not provided with sufficient training for the development of competencies required for the behavioral change (Beck & Holland, 2006).

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Consequently, there needs to be adjustments in the behaviors, resources, as well as social support that are required for the changing of behaviors and the sustenance of these changes (Boesten & Poku, 2009). Findings that show that the adult Haitian population is sexually active with the sexual activities occurring between men and women are consistent with the surveillance data of the Department of Health in Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Overall, the primary mode of transmission in the Haitian community is the homosexual sexual contact. Owing to this, the occasional sex with other partners expands the potential risk. In relation to this, the findings give even stronger arguments to the adjustments to be included to actualize change in behavior and combat this risk (Beck & Holland, 2006).

Conclusion

This paper has explored the reactions that the Haiti community has regarding homosexuals and the people living with HIV/AIDS in their midst. In addition, it has given measures that should be put in place if people were to curb the spreading menace that is the HIV virus. As seen, culture plays a huge role in the spread of this virus, and this has to be the major consideration that partners and the community at large ought to focus on when fighting the transmission of the disease. It is also imperative that the health officers working in this community understand the culture of the people to cooperate in this direction.