Vulnerability and risk perception in the management of HIV/AIDS: Public priorities in a global pandemic
Peter Tsasis1,2, N. Nirupama2
1School of Health Policy and Management, 2School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Abstract: Understanding the way perception of risk is shaped and constructed is crucial in understanding why it has been so difficult to mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS. This paper uses the Pressure and Release (PAR) model, used to predict the onset of natural disasters as the conceptual framework. It substitutes vulnerability and risk perception as the trigger factors in the model, in making the case that HIV/AIDS can be characterized as a slow onset disaster. The implications are that vulnerability must be managed and reduced by addressing root causes, dynamic pressures, and unsafe conditions that contribute to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV/AIDS programs must be culturally appropriate and work toward influencing risk perception, while addressing social norms and values that negatively impact vulnerable populations. By impacting cultural and social expectations, individuals will be able to more readily adopt safer sex behaviors. The development of policies and programs addressing the issues in context, as opposed to individual behaviors alone, allows for effective public health intervention. This may have implications for public health measures implemented for combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Keywords: vulnerability, risk perception, HIV/AIDS, public health intervention
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