HIV has spread dramatically in minority communities, with African Americans currently being five times as likely as whites to contract HIV, and the disproportion continues to increase. Historically, few minority investigators have been funded by the NIH. Culturally appropriate measurements and methods are needed to successfully involve respondents and accurately measure their beliefs, values, and behaviors. Investigators who are members of minority groups often have more access to the minority community and more credibility within that community.
HIV+ persons confront a unique set of challenges and chronic stressors, including stigmatization, alienation from family and friends, complex treatment regimens, and, often, debilitating side effects as they attempt to manage the psychologic and physiological consequences of their condition. For persons living with HIV, elevated distress and low social support take on added importance because they can accelerate disease progression. Helping HIV+ people to reduce stress and adhere to their medical care may in turn help to reduce their risky behavior.