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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Lay Health Providers and HIV Prevention in a Latino Community

Monthly Summaries of Nursing Research

from Medscape Nurses

McQuiston C, Flaskerud JH. "If they don't ask about condoms, I just tell them": a descriptive case study of Latino lay health advisers' helping activities. Health Education & Behavior. 2003;30:79-96.

For minority populations, lay health advisers (LHAs) often supplement traditional health services by providing information on health promotion and disease prevention in their communities. Nurse researchers in North Carolina developed the Protegiendo Nuestra Comunidad (Protecting our Community) program for a growing neighborhood of recent Mexican immigrants. With the help of community leaders, they identified 18 individuals, 15 women and 3 men, for training as LHAs to promote sexual health and decrease risk of HIV exposure. The LHAs ranged in age from 19 years to 39 years, were Spanish-speaking, and had an average of 8 years of education. Training consisted of 21 hours of instruction in safe sex practices and prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The LHAs were then to return to their community to help spread this knowledge. Follow-up interviews with the LHAs showed that many had talked about HIV with their family and friends. The LHAs found they could clear up common misconceptions among those in their community, including the fear of getting HIV from a public bathroom, or through kissing or contact with linens or clothes, and the belief that persons with HIV/AIDS were easy to identify. They also encouraged the use of condoms, and urged testing for those with concerns about exposure to STDs. The LHAs often helped community members make clinic appoints and negotiate the public healthcare system. By providing information and guidance, and answering questions, the LHAs gained the trust of members of their community, helping to spread their message. However, more study is needed to determine community outcomes of this intervention.