Beliefs about aids, health, and illness among low-income latina women



The purposes of this study were to describe (a) the health beliefs of Latina women about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); and (b) the relationship of these beliefs to the subjects' traditional beliefs about illness and its treatment. The sample consisted of 59 low-income Latina women attending nutrition programs in Los Angeles. A qualitative approach was used to gather the data in semi-structured focus group interviews. Content analysis was used to classify data according to causes of AIDS and prevention and treatment of AIDS. Causes of AIDS included all of the current biomedical and public health explanations of transmission, current popular beliefs and misconceptions about transmission, and longstanding traditional beliefs about the causes of illness. Prevention and treatment of AIDS reflected these same three perspectives. The women's beliefs consisted of accurate, inaccurate, and incomplete information about AIDS. Implications were drawn from the findings for AIDS education and prevention programs which are congruent with the participants' cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, and expectations.