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Cultural Variations in Environment and Biology: AIDS


Cultural variations in environment and biology influence prevalence rates of diseases and disorders among diverse ethnic groups. Moreover, culture has a significant impact on attitudes to traditional medicine on the whole and treatment in particular. For example, some cultural groups prefer folk medicine and do not believe in the chronic character of such diseases like AIDS or herpes (Giger, 2013). Also, healthcare professionals are concerned with the ecological aspects of health issues among race and ethnic minorities. This research studies the prevalence of AIDS among ethnic groups in the United States and suggests patient education interventions, which can be performed by nurses, among the representatives of culture most susceptible to AIDS.

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AIDS Prevalence among Ethnic Groups

Although there is a tendency for a decrease in the number of new AIDS diagnoses (from 25,829 in 2011 to 18,160 in 2016) in the United States, the incidence of AIDS is still high (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Still, the proportion of representatives of different races and ethnicities remains mostly unchanged. As of 2016, the lowest incidence of AIDS was registered among Asians (335 cases, which makes 1.9% of the Asian American population), Whites (2.6% with 4,111 cases), and Native Hawaiian people (15 cases, which makes 2.6% of this minority group). AIDS rates among the Hispanic/Latino population are higher.

Thus, there were 654 individuals diagnosed with AIDS in 2016 among this ethnic group (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). For decades, the highest incidence of AIDS is recorded among Black/African Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), there were 8,501 cases of AIDS registered, which means that 21.1% of all African American population has AIDS. Thus, it can be concluded that the AIDS epidemic is observed among the African American population and there is a need for patient education within this ethnic group to stimulate prevention and improve treatment adherence rates.

AIDS Patient Education

Patient education is likely to be more effective if the cultural background of patients is considered. For example, the research by Sutton and Parks (2013) suggests that the context of faith and spirituality is essential for Black/African Americans. Consequently, nurses can integrate patient education interventions into church programs for HIV/AIDS prevention within Black/African American communities. Moreover, there are community-based organizations, which also provide HIV/AIDS prevention services and can be accessed by nurses for cooperation in patient education.

The major topics related to AIDS patient education should cover such aspects as prevention, regular testing of the representatives of risk groups, and promotion of treatment adherence among the defined community members. Nursing efforts in AIDS patient education among Black/African American population in cooperation with religious and community organizations can be more effective because of the significance of faith and spirituality for this ethnic group.


Summarizing, it should be mentioned that cultural background can be important in healthcare. Moreover, environment and biological aspects are also meaningful. They contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in the incidence of diverse diseases including AIDS. Since African Americans make up a group with the highest AIDS prevalence, there is a need for nursing interventions aimed at the reduction and prevention of AIDS among African Americans. One of the possible ways to provide effective patient education is to involve faith and community organizations because African Americans value their faith and spirituality and are more likely to follow the recommendations from familiar resources.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2016

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Giger, J. (2013). Transcultural nursing: Assessment and intervention (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Sutton, M., & Parks, C. (2013). HIV/AIDS prevention, faith, and spirituality among Black/African American and Latino communities in the United States: Strengthening scientific faith-based efforts to shift the course of the epidemic and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Journal of Religion and Health, 52(2), 514-530. 

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