How Perceived Structural Racism and Discrimination and Medical Mistrust in the Health System Influences Participation in HIV Health Services for Black Women Living in the United States South: A Qualitative, Descriptive Study

J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2020 Sep-Oct;31(5):598-605. doi: 10.1097/JNC.0000000000000189.


There are racial and geographic disparities for HIV in the United States; Black women have nearly 20 times the risk of White women in being infected with HIV, and lifetime HIV risk is greatest for people living in the southern United States. These disparities, layered with the structural racism and discrimination that is more prominent in the south, is a public health issue. The purpose of this article is to share Black women's perspectives of how perceived structural racism and discrimination, and medical mistrust in the health care system contribute to their participation in health services. In this formative study, we conducted seven focus groups among women living in 10 low-income housing communities. Results indicate that there are barriers to the utilization of health services that are grounded in personal experiences and historical mistrust for the health care system. Understanding these barriers is critical to combating the HIV epidemic for this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / ethnology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Poverty
  • Qualitative Research
  • Racism / psychology*
  • Racism / statistics & numerical data
  • Trust*