Africans in Scotland: heterogeneity and sensitivities to HIV

Smith, Mathew Arjuna (2016) Africans in Scotland: heterogeneity and sensitivities to HIV. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Aim: To investigate how diversity within the African migrant population in Scotland affects their understandings of HIV and uptake of HIV testing and treatment, in order to improve HIV-related outcomes.
Background: In the UK, Africans have the worst outcomes for HIV infection, primarily due to late diagnosis. Improvement requires better understanding of the barriers to healthcare engagement. This PhD study investigates how diversity among first generation African migrants in Scotland could affect engagement with general healthcare and HIV related interventions and services.
Methods: I conducted qualitative research, involving participant observation at two sites (an African religious group and an asylum seeker/refugee drop-in centre) and interviews with African migrants attending these and three additional sites (two advocacy charities and a student association). Data were collected in two cities (Glasgow and Edinburgh) and two smaller towns (Paisley and Kirkcaldy). I interviewed 27 Africans, including economic migrants (n=8), students (n=9) and asylum seeker/refugees (n=10) and 14 representatives from organisations with high levels of African attendees (e.g., country associations, community organisations, advocacy groups, commercial establishments and religious based organisations). Thematic data analysis was carried out.
Diversity of the population and related issues of identity: Participants were highly diverse and reported considerable heterogeneity in the African diaspora in Scotland. The identity of “African” was bound with various negative stereotypes and appeals to this identity did not necessarily have relevance for participants.
Nature of African affiliated organisations in Scotland: There were a wide range of organisations that advertised their remit as catering for the African diaspora. They varied in consistency and sustainability and contributed towards healthcare engagement to different degrees.
Engagement with healthcare: There were multiple experiences and understandings of the healthcare system within the sample as a whole, and to an extent by migrant type. Whilst the majority reported successful and satisfactory service use, distinct barriers emerged. These included: understandings of rights and access to care based on African models of healthcare; the interplay of religious based understandings with ideas about access to healthcare; and assumptions and anxiety about the connections between visa status and health status.
Knowledge of HIV and engagement with HIV related services: Participants had good knowledge about HIV, with some notable exceptions, but there was no patterning by migrant type. They had diverse views about risk of HIV infection, most of which did not align with the HIV epidemiology that identifies African migrants as an at risk group. Most of the sample did not think targeting African migrants for HIV interventions would be successful and were hostile to the proposal for various reasons, especially because they believed it would perpetuate stigma and prejudice towards the African diaspora. There were mixed experiences of HIV related services, and prompts to test for HIV had elicited a range of reactions, the majority negative.
Conclusion: Diversity within the African diaspora in Scotland should be taken into account to improve the salience and relevance of future HIV interventions. Attitudes towards current HIV testing promotion suggest that a more cooperative approach could be taken with African communities to build on existing relationships of trust and understandings of HIV.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: African migrants, HIV, HIV testing, migrant health, health engagement, service engagement, stigma, Scotland.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Supervisor's Name: McDaid, Dr. L. and Wight, Dr. D.
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Mathew Smith
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7668
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2016 09:47
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2016 08:32

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