The Network Relations Study

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The Network Relations Study

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Title: The Network Relations Study
Author: Pierce, Todd Garret
Abstract: The Network Relations StudyTodd G. Pierce Ph.D.African American women are amongst the fastest growing population of new HIV cases in the United States. Washington, D.C. represents the highest rates of HIV in the United States. There are many contributing factors as to why African American women are at such risk. Poverty, violence, illegal drug use and histories of childhood sexual abuse are some of these factors. This dissertation examines the interplay between violence, social networks, drug abuse, sexual behaviors and HIV risk among African American women in Washington, D.C. who have had lifelong histories as victims of violence and sexual abuse. Thirty-two months of ethnographic research was conducted with five selected women who have histories of drug abuse, sexual abuse and other forms of abuse and violence in their lives. Research was also conducted with harm reduction organizations, such as HIV risk reduction outreach and education organizations to assist in contextualizing the participating women's lives. Neighborhood community data collected on issues of violence and social beliefs provided further social contexts in which to frame the lives of the participating women. A multi-methodological approach using participant observation, life history interviews, social network plotting and event recall interviews was utilized to illustrate and examine the effects of psychological and physical trauma brought on by experiences of violence and abuse, and how said trauma impact individual social and sexual practices. This research also examined ways in which cyclical violence and abuse within the participating women's family and social network histories have influenced the women's decision-making abilities with regards to HIV risk behaviors. This research illustrates the interplay between the self and social networks in relation to drug addiction and violence, and demonstrates how violence affects the self and limits human agency, especially in regard to HIV risk behaviors, and identifies the need to include childhood sexual abuse as a key indicator for risk of HIV and other diseases and social ailments.
Description: Degree awarded: Ph.D. Anthropology. The Catholic University of America
Date: 2011-06-24

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