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J Urban Health. 2005 Jun;82(2):237-49. Epub 2005 May 11.

Poverty-related stressors and HIV/AIDS transmission risks in two South African communities.

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University of Connecticut, Department of Psychology, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.


Community stress associated with poverty is related to health risks and poor health outcomes. Perceived community stress is specifically related to HIV transmission risk behaviors in the United States, but research has not examined these relationships in southern Africa, the region of the world with the highest rates of HIV infection and among the greatest poverty. Men (N=464) and women (N=531) living in impoverished adjacent communities distinguished by race (e.g., indigenous African and Coloured) completed anonymous surveys of perceptions of 10 poverty-related community stressors and measures of HIV risk-related behaviors. Indigenous African and Coloured communities differed in their perceptions of stressors, with Africans consistently viewing the 10 community stressors as more serious problems. In addition, perceived seriousness of lacking basic living resources was related to higher risk for HIV among Africans. Perceived community stress was also related to alcohol and drug use, but substance use did not mediate the association between perceived community stress and HIV risks. In the Coloured community, perceived community stressors were related to drug use, but perceived community stressors were not associated with HIV risks. These findings extend the findings of previous research to show that poverty-related stressors are associated with HIV transmission risks in some poverty-stricken communities and that these associations are not mediated by substance use.

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