The Impact of African Americans’ Beliefs About HIV Medical Care on Treatment Adherence: A Systematic Review and Recommendations for Interventions


Disparities in access to and retention of regular HIV medical treatment persist among African Americans living with HIV. Many scholars believe that the mistrust of health care held by many African Americans stems from a legacy of abuse, from medical experimentation on slaves to the unethical practices with patients in the Tuskegee Syphilis study. We performed a systematic appraisal of the literature, using several key terms, in order to understand how attitudes about HIV-related health care influence African Americans’ engagement in care. We examined peer-reviewed studies published during the period January 2001 through May 2012. An initial search generated 326 studies. Sixteen descriptive studies met our inclusion criteria. Experiences of racism, conspiracy beliefs and the quality of provider relationships appeared to impact engagement. Providers should openly investigate personal beliefs that adversely affect their treatment decisions, listen to patient narratives, and share treatment decisions in order to create a transparent environment.

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Correspondence to Gina B. Gaston.

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Gaston, G.B., Alleyne-Green, B. The Impact of African Americans’ Beliefs About HIV Medical Care on Treatment Adherence: A Systematic Review and Recommendations for Interventions. AIDS Behav 17, 31–40 (2013).

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  • African Americans
  • HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy)
  • Self-care adherence
  • Cultural competence