AIDS Resources and Literature Review (2010)

In recognition of World AIDS Day December 5, this month’s research review turns to social work’s development of knowledge for practice and policy concerning issues related to persons living with HIV/AIDS. Social workers have been at the forefront of this issue since it first became a major public health crisis in the early 1980s. The ensuing two decades have produced not only new models of care, but also a major re-focus from raising awareness in the gay community to concentrating on prevention within a range of cultural and age-specific populations. Likewise, attention has broadened from managing end-of-life issues to learning to live with a chronic illness for ever-increasing periods of time, and promoting awareness of the impact of this illness throughout the world.

Among the specific foci of social work research are HIV/AIDS and pediatrics, maternal and child health, substance abuse, aging, persons in the African American and Latino communities, and the newest generations of sexually active youth, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered youth. Social work’s experience and expertise with co-morbidities and interventions that address families and communities struggling with multiple issues have produced a system-oriented approach to care. Likewise, social work’s tradition of working with and advocating for the disenfranchised has produced both individual and organizational advocacy efforts. The information highlighted in the research references shows the broadening scope of research conducted by social workers, or those working in social work settings, regarding service needs of and interventions with persons living with HIV/AIDS as well as an increased focus on prevention.

In January 2004, social work researchers convened in a symposium funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and coordinated by the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR) at the annual conference of the Society for Social Work and Research: “Drug Abuse: HIV/AIDS and Other Medical and Social Consequences.” Researchers from the NIDA funded social work research infrastructure development centers presented on their research in progress. Among the presentations was the following specific to HIV/AIDS:

Comparison of Theoretical Approaches to Research Design: Findings from Intervention Research with Persons Living With HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse;

Nabila El-Bassel, PhD and Louisa Gilbert, MSSW, Columbia University School of Social Work. This presentation discussed empowerment theory as the basis for three studies addressing: efficacy of a prevention intervention with women and their sexual partners, relationship of partner violence and trauma among women in a drug treatment program, and research design issues related to intervention targeting HIV and drug abuse co-morbidity.

In 2004, two NASW journals devoted special issues to HIV/AIDS:

  • Social Work, July 2004, Vol. 49;
  • Health & Social Work , May 2004, Vol. 29

Selected articles from these two special issues are listed underResources and Articles in Journal Special Issues and Books Chapters.


The following are links to resources relating to HIV/AIDS as well as selected recent examples of published studies of social work research.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
The NIH NIAID Division of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (DAIDS) was formed in 1986 to address the national research needs created by the advent and spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Specifically, the Division’s mission is to increase basic knowledge of the pathogenesis, natural history, and transmission of HIV disease and to support research that promotes progress in its detection, treatment, and prevention. DAIDS accomplishes this through planning, implementing, managing, and evaluating programs in (1) fundamental basic research; (2) discovery and development of therapies for HIV infection and its complications; and (3) discovery and development of vaccines and other prevention strategies.

In addition to NIAID, several other institutes fund research where HIV/AIDS is a co-morbid illness to mental health, drug abuse, or developmental life stages, including child development and aging including:

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD )

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) .

Next to NIAID, NIDA is the largest source of NIH research funding for HIV/AIDS including the following:

NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse Social Work Research Infrastructure Development Centers

University of Albany School of Social Welfare
Philip McCallion, Director,
Focus of the center: A program of research on Child Welfare, Drug Abuse and Intergenerational Risk (CWDAIR) based in the School of Social Welfare (SSW) at the University at Albany, with a goal to advance research on the development and delivery of coordinated, evidence-based and theoretically-oriented services for parents in the child welfare system with addiction and co-occurring problems including HIV/AIDS. The focus on substance abuse in conjunction with HIV/AIDS within child welfare families is timely, appropriate, and significant since children in these families face significant barriers to healthy development.

Columbia University School of Social Work Center for Intervention and Prevention Research on HIV and Drug Abuse
Nabila El-Bassel, Director,
Focus of the center: Drug abuse and HIV/AIDS intervention and prevention research. The Center’s mission is to advance intervention and prevention research on HIV/AIDS and drug abuse by training the next cadre of social work researchers in the development, testing, and dissemination of empirically-validated intervention and prevention approaches that address contemporary social problems. While focusing on HIV/AIDS and drug use, the center’s research program also recognizes and addresses a range of co-morbid issues found in urban communities. Currently, scientific activities are examining HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, violence, and health and mental health.

University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work Substance Abuse Research Development Program for Underserved Populations
James Alan Neff, Director,
Focus of the center: Substance abuse among underserved populations and factors at the individual, family, organizational, societal, and cultural levels that influence substance abuse and treatment. The research program focuses specifically on substance abuse among underserved populations (particularly African Americans and Mexican Americans) and emphasizes factors that influence substance abuse and substance abuse treatment. A pilot project examines factors related to adherence to anti-retroviral therapy among African American and Mexican American substance abusers with HIV.

Washington University George Warren Brown School of Social Work Comorbidity and Addictions Center
Arlene Rubin Stiffman, Director,
Focus of the center: Multi-sector addiction interventions for underserved populations with co- morbid mental health and HIV risk problems. The research agenda of the center includes: 1)

The delivery or coordination of multi-sector addiction services to underserved populations with co-morbid mental health and HIV risk problems; 2) The evaluation of addictions prevention and treatment programs in underserved populations with co-morbid mental health and HIV risk problems.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
AHRQ funds research in primary health care delivery and evaluation of health care delivery systems.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC serves as the national agency for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of Americans. Information on HIV/AIDS research can be found at

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
While SAMHSA’s vision is community life for everyone and its mission is to build resilience and facilitate recovery for people with or at risk for substance abuse and mental illness, like the other federal agencies listed, it is concerned with HIV/AIDS as a co-morbid illness and risk factor. Enter AIDS in the search box to link to SAMHSA’s matrix specific to the topic.

Boston College Graduate School of Social Work Social Work and HIV/AIDS Annual Conference
Under the leadership of Vincent J. Lynch, MSW, PhD, director of continuing education, the BC Graduate School of Social Work founded the Annual National Conference on Social Work and HIV/AIDS in 1988. The conference includes an annual update of the Ryan White Care Act. An extensive list of Web-linked resources can be found at

The César E. Chávez Institute
Inspired by César Chávez’ commitment to social justice, the César E. Chávez Institute (CCI) is dedicated to studying and documenting the impact of social oppression on the health, education, and well being of disenfranchised communities in the US. Studies include factors of resiliency and strength, as well as processes that empower communities in their struggles for equality and self-determination. The Institute aims to bridge academic research and the practice of community empowerment through multiple approaches, including participatory action research that make studies and research findings accessible and useful to policy makers, service providers, educators, and community advocates.

Articles in Journal Special Issues and Book Chapters

A multidimensional conceptual framework for understanding HIV/AIDS as a chronic long-term illness. Mitchell, C. G.& Linsk, N. L.(2004, July). Social Work 49(3), 469+.

Predictors of child custody plans for children whose parents are living with AIDS in New York City. Lightfoot, M. & Rotheram-Borus, M.. (2004, July). Social Work , 49(3), 461.

HIV/AIDS prevention in “Indian Country”: Current practice, indigenist etiology models, and postcolonial approaches to change. Duran, B. & Walters, K. L.(2004, June). AIDS Education & Prevention , 16(3), 187+.

The changing face of AIDS. Galambos, C. M. (2004, May). Health & Social Work , 29(2), 83 +.

Components of successful HIV/AIDS case management In Alaska Native villages . Barney, D. D. , Rosenthal, C. C. & Speier, T. (2004, June). AIDS Education & Prevention , 16(3), 202+.

Stresses on grandparents and other relatives caring for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Linsk, N. L. & Mason, S. (2004, May). Health & Social Work , 29(2), 127+.

Social support and maintenance of safer sex practices among people living with HIV/AIDS. Reilly, T. & Woo, G. (2004, May). Health & Social Work , 29(2), 97+.

Unserved, unseen, and unheard: Integrating programs for HIV-infected and HIV-affected older adults. Emlet, C. A. & Poindexter, C. C. (2004, May). Health & Social Work , 29(2), 86 +.

The HIV-negative gay man: Developing strategies for survival and emotional well-being. Ball, S. (Ed.). (1988). Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services , 8(1) .

HIV disease: Lesbians, gays and the social services. Lloyd, G. A. & Kuszelewicz, M. A. (Eds.). (1995). Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 2(3, 4).

Research with gay drug users and the interface with HIV: Current methodological issues for social work research. Gorman, E. M. (2003). In Meezan, W. (Ed.). Research methods with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations. New York : Harrington Park Press, Haworth Social Work Practice Press. pp. 79-94.


Latinas and HIV/AIDS risk factors: Implications for harm reduction strategies . Zambrana, R. E., Cornelius, L. J., Boykin, S. S. & Lopez, D. S. (2004, July). American Journal of Public Health , 94(7),1152+

A qualitative investigation of adherence issues for men who are HIV positive. Westerfelt, A. (2004, April). Social Work , 49(2), 231+

Notions of HIV and medication among multiethnic people living with HIV .
Oggins, J. (2003, February). Health & Social Work , 28(1), 53+.

Women with HIV infection: A model of university-based care, training and research. Mundy, L. M., Kalluri, P., Meredith, K., Marshall, L., Fraser, V. J. & Thompson, P.(2002, August). AIDS Care , 14(1), 95+.

Organizational and environmental predictors of job satisfaction in community-based HIV/AIDS services organizations. Gimbel, R. W., Lehrman, S., Strosberg, M. A., Ziac, V., Freedman, J.,Savicki, K. & Tackley, L. (2002, March). Social Work Research , 26(1), 43+.


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