UCLA Fielding School of Public Health doctoral student Ms. Alejandra Cabral published an article in a special issue of the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (JANAC) titled “Community-Driven Health Priorities for Healthy Aging With HIV“.
Although people living with HIV (PLWH) typically experience far fewer, life-threatening, acute illnesses than before the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), they are burdened with issues specific to the unique interaction between HIV and the aging process. Still, there is very little work using community based participatory research (CBPR) methods to understand the ways that older adults experience and cope with challenges associated with aging with HIV.
Ms. Cabral conducted analysis of focus group data collected in 2018 which explored the major health issues (physical, mental, environmental), resiliencies (strengths, resources, choices), and priority research topics (issues, how they are selection, problem areas) related to HIV and aging among stakeholders in the research process. These stakeholders included HIV patients, their caregivers, their providers, the community organizations that serve them, and researchers. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded project was conducted in Palm Springs, California, where the prevalence of HIV among gay men older than 50 years is the highest in the country, due mostly to desert migration.
“We identified five major themes reflected in the data,” said Ms. Cabral. “These included long-term side effects of medication, social determinants of health, mental health, resiliencies, and involving community in research. Oftentimes the community is a focus of research but they are not afforded the right to shape the research from start to finish. This project was unique because community developed the focus group script, the informed consent, and after a brief research training, conducted the focus groups themselves.” These themes illustrate the fact that community seeks more direct involvement in research, which can result in better and more sustainable outcomes.
Ms. Cabral was joined in this study by University of California, Riverside (UCR) doctoral candidate Mr. Logan Marg, UCR School of Medicine professors, Drs. Andrew Subica and Brandon Brown, UCLA medical student Ms. Michelle Didero, and community leaders Jeff Taylor and Chris Christensen in Palm Springs.