I was drawn to the Laureano panel for its simplicity and island nostalgia, and wanted to include it in my final piece. In order to do so, I’ve decided to shed light on many of the aspects that we do not pay attention to about Puerto Rico as the country deals with AIDS. I further wanted to bring another aspect as it relates to a country outside of Africa with an HIV/AIDS rate that goes unnoticed. Throughout my research however, I find that Puerto Rico’s AIDS crisis gets some coverage, but not nearly as much coverage as it should. And, being that it is a U.S. territory, I would except more relief in terms of aid and so on. 

There is not much documentation in terms of the origin of HIV/AIDS in Puerto Rico. However, based on my previous findings in relation to the spread from Africa, the initial spread of AIDS in Puerto began after the first Caribbean country – Jamaica , had found the first case of HIV/AIDS in 1982. From there, the disease spread based on lack of access to research and/other further implementations.  

The Problems

The spread of HIV/AIDS in the rising numbers of drug abuse

Despite the various interventions leading to significant reductions in HIV in the United States, there hasnt been much progess in terms of Puerto Rican People who inject drugs (Deren). Almost twenty five percent of HIV cases among Hispanics in 2006 were mong those born in Puerto Rico (CDC). Being that Puerto Rico is considered apart of the United States, they are often overlooked as it realtes to the problems that they are faced with. It appears that because the United States is not in an HIV/AIDS crisis, the statistics in the territory of Puerto Ruco often go ignored. The thousands of new infectiosn that arise in Puerto Rico are attributed to injection a drug use, at a higher percentage than any other United States region.  

The following video encompasses the problems and HIV/AIDS statistics in Puerto Rico. 

Values, Beliefs, and Norms

As with most cultures, there’s always a societal ideal for what a woman should be, and what her man should be in order to complement those attributes. For years, in Latino culture, marianismo has been characterized a complement for machismo (Ortiz). Marianismo defines the role of the preferred woman, based on sacred values as modeled by the virgin Mary. While the machismo, pertains to the independent, fearless, and sexual prowess that a man should characterize (Ortiz). These ideals, as most, stem from patriarchy and typically come from religious beliefs. For Puerto Rico, these ideals stem from Catholicism.  

However, with new generations and urbanism often comes change. In a study conducted in Puerto Rico by McCann-Erickson, sixty-three percent of women agreed that sexual liberty is positive, doing away with previous belief. (Ortiz) But with this new mean of sexual liberation comes risk. The increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases among Puerto Ricans, leaves no room to be ignored. It is now being emphasized that there should be means of less timid sex education and HIV/AIDS prevention (Ortiz). But, those in power are typically older and stuck within ideals, and find sex discussions and publicity to be taboo – therefore it is preferred to be unspoken about.

The problem here is that with Puerto Rico being such a religious country, there are stigmas that arise in relation to religion which are further factors in its fostering. Some studies have found that religoius beliefs are related to the idea that infection is a punishment fom God, as those infected did not follow set moral/religious codes (Varas-Diaz et al.). Given this, it goes without much thought that if these religous establishments were to use their widespread influsence for methods of prevention and educaton, there ould be a lagrge impact on the HIV/AIDS demographics in Puerto Rican society. 

The Effects

Puerto Rican women with HIV/AIDS are often more at risk for poor mental health outcomes given environment and ideals. Given religious norms, Puerto Rican women are often subjected to a passive, non-assertive position. In a study done to reveal the way in which women cope with having HIV/AIDS, many reported that spirituality is what keeps them sane (Simoni et al.). In this study by Ortixz, a group of women were given a response panel about their moods, and many reported felling depressed. About eighty foor percent of these woemn repotred not being able to shake of the blues (Simoni et al). Though this study shows that spirtuality oftentimes hellps in terms of self esteem and purpose, these are most in terms of the disease on a broad scale. WHen it comes to evryday life, many Puerto Rican women living with HIV/AIDS have to deal with daily cultural-driven stigms placed upon them by socitey. 

On the other hand, homosexual people also deal with forms of depression and attempting to cope. Puerto Rican gay men and lesbians are a population that deal with an increased risk of poor mental health. Living in a society where one is apart a sexual minority group typically increase stress, and low self esteem (dis). While some are able to ignore these societal norms and means of coping, this devaluation by society mofnte lead to bad outcome for gay amen and lesbians. Those gay/lesbian individual living in the US, often take on means of added stress, which stems from adjusting to culture. (dis) These means of depression , along with living with HIV/AIDS typically lead to toxic communities withing the country. 

 

Education

Cielo:The Latino Commission on AIDS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the spread of HIV & AIDS in the Latino community.

As stated above , the risk group in Puerto Rico for HIV/AIDS is mainly drug users, however the epidemic is still broad-scaled. In order to reduce the spread of the disease there should be effective measures put into place to still these methods of prevention and proper lifestyles. A study conducted based on twenty trials, it is found that implementing intervention programs had to be specifically adjusted for the given groups. (Herbst). For example, each of the intervention methods were better accepted by infected individuals if they were taught by non-peers. (Herbst). Also, use of machismo beliefs among non-drug using individuals were more effective than the opposite due to certain experiences and changed beliefs. (Herbst). And Interventions targeting drug users, reduced the odds of injection drug use but did not necessarily reduce the odds of risky sexual behavior.

From this, one can draw that the interventions placed in these communities must be tuned based on the underlying caused. Oftentimes, infected individuals are given  general information about HIV/AIDS, and the narrative is not changed.