New Publication: Maria De Jesus, PhD

January 27, 2015

The DC D-CFAR would like to congratulate Maria De Jesus, PhD on her new publication "Getting tested is almost like going to the Salem witch trials: discordant discourses between Western public health messages and sociocultural expectations surrounding HIV testing among East African immigrant women" funded in part by a DC D-CFAR pilot award.

Although HIV testing is the first entryway into vital treatment services, evidence reveals that foreign-born blacks have a lower rate of recent HIV testing than US-born blacks. To date, however, there are no studies that examine the culture-specific perceptions of HIV testing among East African immigrant women (who comprise a large share of Black Africans in DC) to better understand their potential barriers to testing. Dr. De Jesus and her colleagues adopted the PEN-3 cultural model as their theoretical framework in order to examine East African women’s HIV testing perceptions and partner communication norms. Between October 2012 and March 2013, the investigators conducted a total of 25 interviews with East African women in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. For triangulation purposes, data collection consisted of both in-depth, semi-structured interviews and cognitive interviews, in which participants were administered a quantitative survey and assessed on how they interpreted items. Qualitative thematic analysis revealed a systematic pattern of discordant responses across participants. While they were aware of messages related to Western public health discourse surrounding HIV testing (e.g., Everyone should get tested for HIV; One should talk to one’s spouse about HIV testing), divergent sociocultural expectations rooted in cultural and religious beliefs prevailed (e.g., Getting an HIV test brings shame to the person who got tested and to one’s family; it implies one is engaging in immoral behavior; One should not talk with one’s spouse about HIV testing; doing so breaks cultural norms). Implications of using a culture-centered model to examine the role of sociocultural expectations in HIV prevention research and to develop culturally responsive prevention strategies are discussed.