Community empowerment paradigm drift and the primary prevention of HIV/AIDS

Soc Sci Med. 1998 Apr;46(7):831-42. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(97)00208-6.


Long discussed in the public health arena, the concept of empowerment has only recently entered the discourse on the primary prevention of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Despite its broad appeal, empowerment has not been systematically incorporated into theory-based interventions, which may reflect a lack of consensus on the meaning of empowerment, how to measure it, and the intervention strategies it implies. The purpose of this paper is to consider the relevance of empowerment to community interventions for persons at risk for HIV, particularly women. The origins of empowerment are reviewed; community empowerment as an intervention framework is described and its core assumptions defined. There is some evidence of the growing influence of empowerment and related concepts in recent HIV-related policy, research, and programs funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, adoption of an empowerment framework for HIV prevention will require further theory and measurement development, as well as changes in how public health researchers and practitioners work with the communities they serve.

MeSH terms

  • Community Medicine
  • Community Participation
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Planning
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Public Policy
  • United States
  • Women's Health