Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (268296)

Clipboard (0)

Related Articles

1.  Arctic Societies, Cultures, and Peoples in a Changing Cryosphere 
Ambio  2012;40(Suppl 1):100-110.
Changes in sea ice, snow cover, lake and river ice, and permafrost will affect economy, infrastructure, health, and indigenous and non-indigenous livelihoods, culture, and identity. Local residents are resilient and highly adaptive, but the rate and magnitude of change challenges the current adaptive capacity. Cryospheric changes create both challenges and opportunities, and occur along local, regional, and international dimensions. Such changes will provide better access to the Arctic and its resources thereby increasing human activities such as shipping and tourism. Cryospheric changes pose a number of challenges for international governance, human rights, safety, and search and rescue efforts. In addition to the direct effects of a changing cryosphere, human society is affected by indirect factors, including industrial developments, globalization, and societal changes, which contribute to shaping vulnerability and adaptation options. Combined with non-cryospheric drivers of change, this will result in multifaceted and cascading effects within and beyond the Arctic.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13280-011-0219-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3357774
Cryospheric change; Societal effects; Adaptation; Arctic society; Governance; Indigenous and local residents
2.  Health and human rights in today’s fight against HIV/AIDS 
AIDS (London, England)  2008;22(Suppl 2):S113-S121.
The development of the health and human rights framework coincided with the beginning of the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. Since then, the international community has increasingly turned to human rights language and instruments to address the disease. Not only are human rights essential to addressing a disease that impacts marginalized groups most severely, but the spread of HIV/AIDS itself exacerbates inequality and impedes the realization of a range of human rights. Policy developments of the past decade include the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ General Comment on the ‘Right to Health’, the UN Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, and the UN’s International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, among others. Rights-related setbacks include the failure of the Declaration and its 5-year follow-up specifically to address men who have sex with men, sex workers, and intravenous drug users, political restrictions placed on urgently needed US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds, and the failure of many countries to decriminalize same-sex sex and outlaw discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. Male circumcision as an HIV prevention measure is a topic around which important debate, touching on gender, informed consent and children’s rights, serves to illustrate the ongoing vitality of the health and human rights dialogue. Mechanisms to increase state accountability for addressing HIV/AIDS should be explored in greater depth. Such measures might include an increase in the use of treaty-based judicial mechanisms, the linking of human rights compliance with preferential trade agreements, and rights requirements tied to HIV/ AIDS funding.
PMCID: PMC3356156  PMID: 18641463
circumcision; human rights; male; social justice; women’s rights; United Nations
Across the African continent, women’s rights have become integral to international declarations, regional treaties, national legislation, and grassroots activism. Yet there is little research on how African men have understood these shifts, and how African masculinities are implicated in such changes. Drawing on a year of ethnographic research in the Ugandan capital Kampala, this article investigates how ordinary men and women in Uganda understand women’s rights, and how their attitudes are tied to local conceptions of masculinity. I argue that a new configuration of gender relations is evident in urban Uganda—one that accommodates some aspects of women’s rights while retaining previous notions of innate male authority. This article, therefore, illustrates the complex and often contradictory engagements with human rights that occur in local contexts, and how such engagements are shaped by gender relations, including conceptions of masculinity.
PMCID: PMC2767117  PMID: 19862350
women’s rights; human rights; masculinity; Africa; Uganda
4.  Rural-to-urban migration, kinship networks, and fertility among the Igbo in Nigeria 
Like many African rural-to-urban migrants, Igbo-speaking migrants to cities in Nigeria maintain close ties to their places of origin. ‘Home people’ constitute a vital core of most migrants’ social networks. The institution of kinship enables migrants to negotiate Nigeria’s clientelistic political economy. In this context, dichotomous distinctions between rural and urban can be inappropriate analytical concepts because kinship obligations and community ties that extend across rural and urban space create a continuous social field. This paper presents ethnographic data to suggest that fertility behavior in contemporary Igbo-speaking Nigeria cannot be understood without taking into account the ways in which rural and urban social and demographic regimes are mutually implicated and dialectically constituted (anthropological demography; migration; kinship; reproductive behavior; Nigeria).
PMCID: PMC3888877  PMID: 24426181
5.  Eating as a cultural expression of caring among Afro-Caribbean and African American Women: Understanding the cultural dimensions of obesity 
Obesity is a growing problem in the United States that is disproportionately increasing among persons of African Americans, yet little is know about the cultural factors that relate to dietary patterns, obesity and exercise among African Americans and other groups of African descent. The purpose of this paper is to examine the cultural context under which physical activity, healthy eating and weight management is viewed among African American and Caribbean American women.
Four focus groups were conducted of Afro-Caribbean and African American women (age 40 and older) between May and July of 2007 to explore cultural factors related to physical activity, healthy eating and weight management.
Cultural variation was observed among Afro-Caribbean and African American woman in terms of indigenous traditions of food and preparation. These traditions influenced how they approached eating, views of obesity and exercise. At the same time community and economic factors influence the availability of healthy eating and exercise alternatives.
In the development of interventions to improve obesity among persons of African descent it may be important not to assume that one size fits all in terms of community based interventions
PMCID: PMC3760387  PMID: 19711493
women; female; Blacks; obesity; Caribbean; African Americans; ethnic groups
6.  Urban women’s use of rural-based health care services: The case of Igbo women in Aba city, Nigeria 
This study addresses the quest for rural-based health care services among women in urban Nigeria relying on a large qualitative database obtained from 63 Igbo women living in Aba, Nigeria. Results indicate that urban Igbo women of different socioeconomic and demographic characteristics utilize the services of different rural-based health care providers—indigenous healers, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), faith/spiritual, western-trained doctors and nurses as well as chemist shopkeepers—for conditions ranging from infertility, through child birthing and abortions, to swollen body, epilepsy, bone setting, and stubborn skin diseases. Major attractions to rural-based therapists were the failure of urban-based health services to provide cure, perceived mystical nature of conditions, need to conceal information on therapeutic progress and/or the nature of specific disease conditions, belief in rural-based therapists’ ability to cure condition, and affordability of the services of rural-based health care providers. Findings underscore the critical implications of service characteristics, cultural beliefs, and the symbolic content of place(s) for care seekers’ patterns of resort. We suggest that need exists for policies and programs aimed at making health care services in urban Nigeria more responsive to care seekers’ socioeconomic and cultural sensitivities, integrating informal health care providers into Nigeria’s health care system, and strengthening public health education in Nigeria.
PMCID: PMC3456635  PMID: 15738330
Igbo; Nigeria; Rural-based health care services; Urban women
7.  Indigenous perspectives on active living in remote Australia: a qualitative exploration of the socio-cultural link between health, the environment and economics 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:473.
The burden of chronic disease in Indigenous Australia is more than double that of non-Indigenous populations and even higher in remote Northern Territory (NT) communities. Sufficient levels of physical activity are known to reduce the risk of chronic disease and improve the health of those already suffering from chronic disease. It has been identified that effective promotion of physical activity in Indigenous settings requires the diverse cultural perspectives and participation of Indigenous people. However, Indigenous concepts of physical activity are not represented in the public health literature and examples of Indigenous involvement in physical activity promotion are scarce. This study aimed to explore and describe local perspectives, experiences and meanings of physical activity in two remote NT Indigenous communities.
Qualitative research methods guided by ethnographic and participatory action research principles were used. Semi-structured interviews conducted with 23 purposively selected community members were the main source of data, augmented by five commissioned paintings by community-based artists and observations recorded in a journal by the first author.
The findings reveal that in this cultural context the meaning of physical activity is embedded in socially significant and economically necessary physical engagement with the environment. Participants described physical activities associated with Indigenous natural and cultural resource management, customary spaces, seasonal timing and traditional education as creating and protecting health. These activities were viewed not only as culturally appropriate physical activities that contribute to health but as legitimate, physically active forms of social organisation, education and employment that help to build and maintain relationships, wealth, resources and the environment.
This different construction of physical activity in remote Indigenous communities highlights the importance of involving Indigenous people in the development and implementation of physical activity promotion. Physical activities associated with traditional Indigenous cultural practices and being active ‘on country’ need to be viewed as legitimate health promotion activities. Exploring further ways to enable Indigenous people in remote NT to be involved in creating viable active livelihoods on ‘traditional country’ needs to be considered as imperative to health improvement.
PMCID: PMC3662620  PMID: 23672247
Indigenous; Chronic disease; Physical activity; Active living; Indigenous natural and cultural resource management; Remote Australia
8.  Breaking Bad News to a Prospective Cross-Sectional Sample of Patients’ Relatives in a Nigerian Neurosurgical Service 
Objectives: Breaking of medical bad news is anecdotally deemed culturally unacceptable, even intolerable, to native Africans. We explored this hypothesis among a cohort of relatives of patients who had difficult neurosurgical diagnoses in an indigenous practice.
Materials and Methods: A semi-structured, interviewer-administered questionnaire was used in a cross-sectional survey among a consecutive cohort of surrogates/relatives of concerned patients. Their opinion and preferences regarding the full disclosure of the grave neurosurgical diagnoses, and prognoses, of their wards were analyzed.
Results: A total of 114 patients’ relatives, 83 (72.8%) females, were sampled. They were mainly young adults, mean age 40.2 (SD 14.2) years; 57% had only basic literacy education; but the majority, 97%, declared themselves to have serious religious commitments. Ninety nine percent of the study participants deemed it desirable that either they or the patients concerned be told the bad news; 80.7% felt that this is best done with both patients and relations in attendance; 3.5% felt only the patients need be told. These preferences are similar to those expressed by the patients themselves in an earlier study. But a nearly significant greater proportion of patients’ relatives (15 vs 5%, p = 0.06) would rather be the only ones to be told the patients’ bad news.
Conclusion: This data-driven study showed that contrary to anecdotal belief about them, a cohort of native Nigerian-African surrogates of neurosurgical patients was well disposed to receiving, and appeared able to handle well, the full disclosure of difficult medical diagnostic/prognostic information.
PMCID: PMC3733000  PMID: 23935592
breaking of bad news; patient’s family’s preference; native Africans
9.  Ethical Dilemma and Management of Infertility in HIV Seropositive Discordant Couples: A Case Study in Nigeria 
The traditional African society places an invaluable premium on procreation and, in some communities, a woman's place in her matrimony is only confirmed on positive reproductive outcome. Infertility is rife in Nigeria, and HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) infection is a global pandemic, which has led to a drop in life expectancy across the world. In Nigeria, a number of cultural norms relating to gender roles and power dynamics constitute a serious barrier to issues of sexuality and infertility. Couples are concerned about their infertility diagnostic test being disclosed to each other, especially before marriage. This concern is understandable, especially in an environment that lacks the modern concepts and attitude toward sexual matters. This is complicated by the advent of HIV/AIDS infection and the societal mind-set that look at seropostive individuals as transgressors. At present, sexual and reproductive health rights are currently not in place because ethical issues are not given prominence by many physicians in Nigeria. A case of an infertile and seropostive discordant couple, which raised a lot of medical and ethical concerns, is presented here to awaken the consciousness of Nigerian physicians and stimulate discussions on the ethical matters such as this in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3634234  PMID: 23634339
Confidentiality; Disclosure; Ethics; Family; HIV/AIDS; Infertility
10.  Human rights in the biotechnology era 1 
The concept of Human Rights has become the modern civilising standard to which all should aspire and indeed attain.
In an era characterised by widening disparities in health and human rights across the world and spectacular advances in biotechnology it is necessary to reflect on the extent to which human rights considerations are selectively applied for the benefit of the most privileged people. Attention is drawn particularly to sub-Saharan Africa as a marginalised region at risk of further marginalisation if the power associated with the new biotechnology is not used more wisely than power has been used in the past. To rectify such deficiencies it is proposed that the moral agenda should be broadened and at the very least the concept of rights should be more closely integrated with duties
New forms of power being unleashed by biotechnology will have to be harnessed and used with greater wisdom than power has been used in the past. Widening disparities in the world are unlikely to be diminished merely by appealing to human rights. We recommend that a deeper understanding is required of the underlying causes of such disparities and that the moral discourse should be extended beyond human rights language.
PMCID: PMC107797  PMID: 11960562
11.  Human rights, health and the state in Bangladesh 
This paper broadly discusses the role of the State of Bangladesh in the context of the health system and human rights. The interrelation between human rights, health and development are well documented. The recognition of health as a fundamental right by WHO and subsequent approval of health as an instrument of welfare by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICSECR) further enhances the idea. Moreover, human rights are also recognized as an expedient of human development. The state is entrusted to realize the rights enunciated in the ICSECR.
In exploring the relationship of the human rights and health situation in Bangladesh, it is argued, in this paper, that the constitution and major policy documents of the Bangladesh government have recognized the health rights and development. Bangladesh has ratified most of the international treaties and covenants including ICCPR, ICESCR; and a signatory of international declarations including Alma-Ata, ICPD, Beijing declarations, and Millennium Development Goals. However the implementation of government policies and plans in the development of health institutions, human resources, accessibility and availability, resource distribution, rural-urban disparity, the male-female gap has put the health system in a dismal state. Neither the right to health nor the right to development has been established in the development of health system or in providing health care.
The development and service pattern of the health system have negative correlation with human rights and contributed to the underdevelopment of Bangladesh. The government should take comprehensive approach in prioritizing the health rights of the citizens and progressive realization of these rights.
PMCID: PMC1513254  PMID: 16611360
12.  Africans in Yorkshire? - the deepest-rooting clade of the Y phylogeny within an English genealogy 
The presence of Africans in Britain has been recorded since Roman times, but has left no apparent genetic trace among modern inhabitants. Y chromosomes belonging to the deepest-rooting clade of the Y phylogeny, haplogroup A, are regarded as African-specific, and no examples have been reported from Britain or elsewhere in western Europe. We describe the presence of a haplogroup A1 chromosome in an indigenous British male; comparison with African examples suggests a western African origin. Seven out of eighteen men carrying the same rare east-Yorkshire surname as the original male also carry haplogroup A1 chromosomes, and documentary research resolves them into two genealogies with most-recent-common-ancestors living in Yorkshire in the late eighteenth century. Analysis using 77 Y-STRs (short tandem repeats) is consistent with coalescence a few generations earlier. Our findings represent the first genetic evidence of Africans among ‘indigenous’ British, and emphasise the complexity of human migration history, as well as the pitfalls of assigning geographical origin from Y-chromosomal haplotypes.
PMCID: PMC2590664  PMID: 17245408
Y chromosome; haplogroup; African; surnames; genealogy; Y-STRs
13.  Field research with underserved minorities: The ideal and the real 
The realities of doing field research with high-risk, minority, or indigenous populations may be quite different than the guidelines presented in research training. There are overlapping and competing demands created by cultural and research imperatives. A National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded study of American Indian youth illustrates competing pressures between research objectives and cultural sensitivity. This account of the problems that were confronted and the attempts made to resolve them will hopefully fill a needed gap in the research literature and serve as a throught-provoking example for other researchers. This study built cross-cultural bridges. Researchers worked as a team with stakeholders to modify the instruments and methods to achieve cultural appropriateness. The researchers agreed to the communities demands for increased service access and rights of refusal for all publications and presentations. Data indicate that these compromises did not substantially harm the first year of data collection completeness or the well-being of the youth. To the contrary, it enhanced the ability to disseminate results to those community leaders with the most vested interests. The conflicts between ideal research requirements and cultural demands confronted by the researchers and interviewers in the American Indian community were not necessarily different from issues faced by researchers in other communities. Of major import is the recognition that there are no easy answers to such issues within research.
PMCID: PMC3455895  PMID: 15933332
Adolescent research; American Indian; Cultural sensitivity; Underserved minorities
14.  Indigenous Health and Socioeconomic Status in India 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e421.
Systematic evidence on the patterns of health deprivation among indigenous peoples remains scant in developing countries. We investigate the inequalities in mortality and substance use between indigenous and non-indigenous, and within indigenous, groups in India, with an aim to establishing the relative contribution of socioeconomic status in generating health inequalities.
Methods and Findings
Cross-sectional population-based data were obtained from the 1998–1999 Indian National Family Health Survey. Mortality, smoking, chewing tobacco use, and alcohol use were four separate binary outcomes in our analysis. Indigenous status in the context of India was operationalized through the Indian government category of scheduled tribes, or Adivasis, which refers to people living in tribal communities characterized by distinctive social, cultural, historical, and geographical circumstances.
Indigenous groups experience excess mortality compared to non-indigenous groups, even after adjusting for economic standard of living (odds ratio 1.22; 95% confidence interval 1.13–1.30). They are also more likely to smoke and (especially) drink alcohol, but the prevalence of chewing tobacco is not substantially different between indigenous and non-indigenous groups. There are substantial health variations within indigenous groups, such that indigenous peoples in the bottom quintile of the indigenous-peoples-specific standard of living index have an odds ratio for mortality of 1.61 (95% confidence interval 1.33–1.95) compared to indigenous peoples in the top fifth of the wealth distribution. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and chewing tobacco also show graded associations with socioeconomic status within indigenous groups.
Socioeconomic status differentials substantially account for the health inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous groups in India. However, a strong socioeconomic gradient in health is also evident within indigenous populations, reiterating the overall importance of socioeconomic status for reducing population-level health disparities, regardless of indigeneity.
Indigenous groups in India were found to have excess mortality rates compared with non-indigenous groups. A socioeconomic gradient within indigenous populations was also found.
Editors' Summary
In many parts of the world the majority of the population are the descendants of immigrants who arrived there within the last few hundred years. Living alongside of them, and in a minority, are the so-called indigenous (or aboriginal) people who are the descendants of people who lived there in more ancient times. It is estimated that there are 300 million indigenous people worldwide. They are frequently marginalized from the rest of the population, their human rights are often abused, and there are serious concerns about their health and welfare. The state of health of the indigenous people of developed countries such as the US and Australia has often been studied, and we have a fairly clear idea of the kinds of problems these people face. Most indigenous people, however, live in developing countries, and less is known about their health.
India is the second-most populous country in the world, with an estimated 1.1 billion inhabitants. An estimated 90 million indigenous people live in India, where they are often referred to as “scheduled tribes” or Adivasis. They live in many parts of the country but are much more numerous in some Indian states than in others.
Why Was This Study Done?
It has often been said that indigenous people in India have worse health than other Indians, though no figures have been compiled to confirm these claims. The researchers wanted to establish whether it is simply an issue of indigenous people being poorer than other Indians—poverty being well known as a cause of disease—or whether being indigenous is, in itself, a health risk. The researchers also wanted to establish whether there are health inequalities within indigenous groups, and if these differences also followed a socioeconomic patterning.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They used figures collected in the 1998–1999 Indian National Family Health Survey. When this survey was conducted, it was noted whether people were considered to be members of scheduled tribes. The researchers also knew, from the survey, about the income of the families, their death rates, and whether they drank alcohol or smoked or chewed tobacco. They found that indigenous people had higher death rates than other Indians. They made statistical calculations to account for differences in standard of living, and this substantially reduced the difference in death rate among indigenous groups, but an indigenous person was still 1.2 times more likely to die than a non-indigenous person with the same standard of living. Indigenous people were also more likely to drink alcohol and smoke tobacco, and here again, differences in standard of living accounted for a substantial portion of the differences. Importantly, the researchers' analysis showed a strong socioeconomic patterning of health inequalities within the indigenous population groups: the health differences between the poorest and richest indigenous groups were similar in scale to the differences between the poorest and richest non-indigenous groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The authors consider their finding that there is a socioeconomic gradient in mortality and health behaviors among indigenous people to be an important result from the study. The socioeconomic marginalization of indigenous people from the rest of Indian society does seem to increase their health risks, and so does their use of alcohol and tobacco. However, if their standard of living can be improved there would be major benefits for their health and welfare.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
A useful discussion of the term “indigenous people” (with links to documents about international agreements intended to improve their human rights) may be found on Wikipedia. (Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit.)
Survival International is a human rights organization that campaigns for the rights of indigenous peoples, helping them preserve their land and culture.
The charity Health Unlimited also works with indigenous people and its Web site includes links to recent studies and conferences.
A news item from the BBC describes a recent investigation into the health of indigenous people worldwide.
The World Health Organization has produced a number of reports on the health of indigenous people
PMCID: PMC1621109  PMID: 17076556
15.  African American leadership groups: smoking with the enemy 
Tobacco Control  2002;11(4):336-345.
Background: Among all racial and ethnic groups in the USA, African Americans bear the greatest burden from tobacco related disease. The tobacco industry has been highly influential in the African American community for decades, providing funding and other resources to community leaders and emphasising publicly its support for civil rights causes and groups, while ignoring the negative health effects of its products on those it claims to support. However, the industry's private business reasons for providing such support were unknown.
Objective: To understand how and for what purposes the tobacco industry sought to establish and maintain relationships with African American leaders.
Methods: Review and analysis of over 700 previously secret internal tobacco industry documents available on the internet.
Results: The tobacco industry established relationships with virtually every African American leadership organisation and built longstanding social connections with the community, for three specific business reasons: to increase African American tobacco use, to use African Americans as a frontline force to defend industry policy positions, and to defuse tobacco control efforts.
Conclusion: As the tobacco industry expands its global reach, public health advocates should anticipate similar industry efforts to exploit the vulnerabilities of marginalised groups. The apparent generosity, inclusion, and friendship proffered by the industry extract a price from groups in the health of their members. Helping groups anticipate such efforts, confront industry co-optation, and understand the hidden costs of accepting tobacco industry largesse should be part of worldwide tobacco control efforts.
PMCID: PMC1747674  PMID: 12432159
16.  Reinterpreting Ethnic Patterns among White and African American Men Who Inject Heroin: A Social Science of Medicine Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e452.
Street-based heroin injectors represent an especially vulnerable population group subject to negative health outcomes and social stigma. Effective clinical treatment and public health intervention for this population requires an understanding of their cultural environment and experiences. Social science theory and methods offer tools to understand the reasons for economic and ethnic disparities that cause individual suffering and stress at the institutional level.
Methods and Findings
We used a cross-methodological approach that incorporated quantitative, clinical, and ethnographic data collected by two contemporaneous long-term San Francisco studies, one epidemiological and one ethnographic, to explore the impact of ethnicity on street-based heroin-injecting men 45 years of age or older who were self-identified as either African American or white. We triangulated our ethnographic findings by statistically examining 14 relevant epidemiological variables stratified by median age and ethnicity. We observed significant differences in social practices between self-identified African Americans and whites in our ethnographic social network sample with respect to patterns of (1) drug consumption; (2) income generation; (3) social and institutional relationships; and (4) personal health and hygiene. African Americans and whites tended to experience different structural relationships to their shared condition of addiction and poverty. Specifically, this generation of San Francisco injectors grew up as the children of poor rural to urban immigrants in an era (the late 1960s through 1970s) when industrial jobs disappeared and heroin became fashionable. This was also when violent segregated inner city youth gangs proliferated and the federal government initiated its “War on Drugs.” African Americans had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families. Most of the whites were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime. These historical-structural conditions generated distinct presentations of self. Whites styled themselves as outcasts, defeated by addiction. They professed to be injecting heroin to stave off “dopesickness” rather than to seek pleasure. African Americans, in contrast, cast their physical addiction as an oppositional pursuit of autonomy and pleasure. They considered themselves to be professional outlaws and rejected any appearance of abjection. Many, but not all, of these ethnographic findings were corroborated by our epidemiological data, highlighting the variability of behaviors within ethnic categories.
Bringing quantitative and qualitative methodologies and perspectives into a collaborative dialog among cross-disciplinary researchers highlights the fact that clinical practice must go beyond simple racial or cultural categories. A clinical social science approach provides insights into how sociocultural processes are mediated by historically rooted and institutionally enforced power relations. Recognizing the logical underpinnings of ethnically specific behavioral patterns of street-based injectors is the foundation for cultural competence and for successful clinical relationships. It reduces the risk of suboptimal medical care for an exceptionally vulnerable and challenging patient population. Social science approaches can also help explain larger-scale patterns of health disparities; inform new approaches to structural and institutional-level public health initiatives; and enable clinicians to take more leadership in changing public policies that have negative health consequences.
Bourgois and colleagues found that the African American and white men in their study had a different pattern of drug use and risk behaviors, adopted different strategies for survival, and had different personal histories.
Editors' Summary
There are stark differences in the health of different ethnic groups in America. For example, the life expectancy for white men is 75.4 years, but it is only 69.2 years for African-American men. The reasons behind these disparities are unclear, though there are several possible explanations. Perhaps, for example, different ethnic groups are treated differently by health professionals (with some groups receiving poorer quality health care). Or maybe the health disparities are due to differences across ethnic groups in income level (we know that richer people are healthier). These disparities are likely to persist unless we gain a better understanding of how they arise.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to study the health of a very vulnerable community of people: heroin users living on the streets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The health status of this community is extremely poor, and its members are highly stigmatized—including by health professionals themselves. The researchers wanted to know whether African American men and white men who live on the streets have a different pattern of drug use, whether they adopt varying strategies for survival, and whether they have different personal histories. Knowledge of such differences would help the health community to provide more tailored and culturally appropriate interventions. Physicians, nurses, and social workers often treat street-based drug users, especially in emergency rooms and free clinics. These health professionals regularly report that their interactions with street-based drug users are frustrating and confrontational. The researchers hoped that their study would help these professionals to have a better understanding of the cultural backgrounds and motivations of their drug-using patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Over the course of six years, the researchers directly observed about 70 men living on the streets who injected heroin as they went about their usual lives (this type of research is called “participant observation”). The researchers specifically looked to see whether there were differences between the white and African American men. All the men gave their consent to be studied in this way and to be photographed. The researchers also studied a database of interviews with almost 7,000 injection drug users conducted over five years, drawing out the data on differences between white and African men. The researchers found that the white men were more likely to supplement their heroin use with inexpensive fortified wine, while African American men were more likely to supplement heroin with crack. Most of the white men were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime, and these men tended to consider themselves as destitute outcasts. African American men had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families, and these men tended to consider themselves as professional outlaws. The white men persevered less in attempting to find a vein in which to inject heroin, and so were more likely to inject the drug directly under the skin—this meant that they were more likely to suffer from skin abscesses. The white men generated most of their income from panhandling (begging for money), while the African American men generated most of their income through petty crime and/or through offering services such as washing car windows at gas stations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Among street-based heroin users, there are important differences between white men and African American men in the type of drugs used, the method of drug use, their social backgrounds, the way in which they identify themselves, and the health risks that they take. By understanding these differences, health professionals should be better placed to provide tailored and appropriate care when these men present to clinics and emergency rooms. As the researchers say, “understanding of different ethnic populations of drug injectors may reduce difficult clinical interactions and resultant physician frustration while improving patient access and adherence to care.” One limitation of this study is that the researchers studied one specific community in one particular area of the US—so we should not assume that their findings would apply to street-based heroin users elsewhere.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a web page on HIV prevention among injection drug users
The World Health Organization has collected documents on reducing the risk of HIV in injection drug users and on harm reduction approaches
The International Harm Reduction Association has information relevant to a global audience on reducing drug-related harm among individuals and communities
US-focused information on harm reduction is available via the websites of the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Chicago Recovery Alliance
Canada-focused information can be found at the Street Works Web site
The Harm Reduction Journal publishes open-access articles
The CDC has a web page on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities
The Drug Policy Alliance has a web page on drug policy in the United States
PMCID: PMC1621100  PMID: 17076569
17.  Sixth Africa malaria day in 2006: how far have we come after the Abuja Declaration? 
Malaria Journal  2006;5:102.
Each year on the 25th April Africa and the rest of the world commemorate Africa Malaria Day as was agreed upon at the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria held in Abuja, Nigeria on 25th April 2000. The summit also called upon the United Nations to declare the period 2001–2010 a decade for malaria. The 1st Africa Malaria Day was commemorated with the theme "Communities Play a Central Role in Tackling Malaria". The 6th Africa Malaria Day was observed in 2006 with the theme "Get Your ACT Together" and the slogan "Universal Access to Effective Malaria Treatment is a Human Right". This article by the Secretariat of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) was also part of the commemorations for the day. MIM was founded in 1997 as an alliance of institutions and individuals concerned with the malaria problem, and aiming at maximizing the impact of scientific research on malaria through strengthening African research capacity and coordinated global collaboration. The MIM Secretariat has been hosted in rotation by the founding institutions, and is being hosted for the first time in Africa by the African Malaria Network Trust (AMANET) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This article reviews the malaria situation in Africa six years after the Abuja Declaration, highlighting the disease burden trends, failures, achievements, challenges, and the way forward.
PMCID: PMC1637112  PMID: 17090308
18.  The Julius Rosenwald Fund syphilis seroprevalence studies. 
In 1929 the Julius Rosenwald Fund, in conjunction with the Public Health Service (PHS), sponsored a syphilis seroprevalence study in the South characterized as a humanitarian effort to benefit the health of rural African Americans. The study reported extraordinarily high rates of positive Wassermann tests, even among children. Despite the unreliability and nonspecificity of this test, modern authors continue to indict these subjects as syphilitic. However, there was no consistent relationship between syphilis and a positive Wassermann test. Additional treponemal pathogens that potentially caused false-positive tests could explain the results. After public outcry to the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, the Rosenwald study acquired new significance. It was used as evidence to bolster the argument that Tuskegee was a consequence of humanitarian motives that became captive to misguided methods of researchers at the Venereal Disease Division of the PHS. Humanitarianism implies the acknowledgement of a right invested in the recipient; health is an end in itself. However, African Americans were necessary as a source of cheap labor for competition in the world cotton markets and as a restraint on the market value of white labor in manufacturing. The administrative structure of the PHS, not zealous individuals, adopted utilitarianism as its paradigm for human research. Syphilis seroprevalence was a calculated use of public health as a means to economic development.
PMCID: PMC2608059  PMID: 8667443
19.  Anti-Sickling Effect of Dietary Thiocyanate in Prophylactic Control of Sickle Cell Anemia 
As a clinical entity, sickle cell anemia (SCA) is known to be relatively rarer in Africans than in the African-American population of the United States. Paradoxically, sickle cell trait (SCT), the non-anemic, heterozygous condition, is about three times more common among indigenous Africans than in African-Americans. The ratio of SCA to SCT is 1:50 for African-Americans, and less than 1:1,000 for tropical Africans. This etiological disparity is attributed to an anti-sickling agent, thiocyanate, (SCN-) found abundantly in staple African foods, such as the African yam (Dioscorea sp) and cassava (Manihot utilissima). Staple American foods have negligible SCN-concentrations. Nonstaple foods in the American diet, such as carrots, cabbage, and radishes, have SCN- levels far below the African yam and cassava. This finding explains the high incidence of SCA among African-Americans and its rarity in Africans.
The author concludes that SCA is a congenital deficiency anemia, ameliorable by prophylactic diets of foods with high SCN- contents. Thus, “thiocyanate deficiency anemia” is nutritionally a more correct clinical status for those born with the homozygous sickle hemoglobin genome. Just as any iron undernourished person can suffer from iron deficiency anemia, sickle hemoglobin homozygotes suffer from “thiocyanate deficiency anemia” when they subsist on SCN-deficient foods. This article reviews the role of dietary SCN- in SCA control.
PMCID: PMC2571427  PMID: 3795284
20.  Genotypic characterization and safety assessment of lactic acid bacteria from indigenous African fermented food products 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:75.
Indigenous fermented food products play an essential role in the diet of millions of Africans. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are among the predominant microbial species in African indigenous fermented food products and are used for different applications in the food and biotechnology industries. Numerous studies have described antimicrobial susceptibility profiles of LAB from different parts of the world. However, there is limited information on antimicrobial resistance profiles of LAB from Africa. The aim of this study was to characterize 33 LAB previously isolated from three different African indigenous fermented food products using (GTG)5-based rep-PCR, sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and species-specific PCR techniques for differentiation of closely related species and further evaluate their antibiotic resistance profiles by the broth microdilution method and their haemolytic activity on sheep blood agar plates as indicators of safety traits among these bacteria.
Using molecular biology based methods and selected phenotypic tests such as catalase reaction, CO2 production from glucose, colonies and cells morphology, the isolates were identified as Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus ghanensis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus salivarius, Leuconostoc pseudomesenteroides, Pediococcus acidilactici, Pediococcus pentosaceus and Weissella confusa. The bacteria were susceptible to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, clindamycin and erythromycin but resistant to vancomycin, kanamycin and streptomycin. Variable sensitivity profiles to tetracycline and gentamicin was observed among the isolates with Lb. plantarum, Lb. salivarius, W. confusa (except strain SK9-5) and Lb. fermentum strains being susceptible to tetracycline whereas Pediococcus strains and Lb. ghanensis strains were resistant. For gentamicin, Leuc. pseudomesenteroides, Lb. ghanensis and Ped. acidilactici strains were resistant to 64 mg/L whereas some W. confusa and Lb. plantarum strains had a MIC value of 16 mg/L and 32 mg/L respectively. No β-haemolytic activity was observed, however, α-haemolytic activity was observed in 27% (9) of the strains comprising Lb. salivarius (6), W. confusa (2) and Lb. delbrueckii (1) isolates.
The resistance to kanamycin and vancomycin is probably an intrinsic feature since similar observations were reported in the literature for LAB. Low prevalence of pathogenicity indicator traits were observed among the isolates especially with the presence of poor haemolytic activities and they could therefore be considered as interesting candidates for selection of starter cultures or probiotics for different applications.
PMCID: PMC3463448  PMID: 22594449
21.  Surviving oppression under the Rock: The intersection of New York’s drug, welfare, and educational polices in the lived experiences of low-income African-Americans 
Drawing on standpoint and intersectionality theories, this study explores the degree to which interactions among New York State’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, educational and welfare policies have contributed to the maintenance of a culture of surveillance in which the lives of impoverished African Americans are overseen and influenced by oppressive policies and governmental institutions. Qualitative secondary analysis of longitudinal ethnographic data was conducted. Findings demonstrate multiple disadvantages that impoverished African American families struggling with substance use and/or sale experience. These disadvantages accumulated intergenerationally, in a snowball effect making it difficult for participants to maintain stable lives. Findings explored the tension between participants’ experiences with oppression and the multiple ways they either assimilated or resisted their oppression. New sensitive policies informed by standpoint, intersectionality, and Afrocentric perspectives must be developed to increase the availability of meaningful employment and strengthening impoverished African American communities.
PMCID: PMC3530420  PMID: 23216440
drug use policy; poverty; welfare; African-Americans; oppression
22.  Human rights 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1977;3(4):160-161.
What are human rights? In this article Enoch Powell, MP (a former Conservative Minister of Health), approaches this question through a critical discussion of Article 25 (I) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Professor R S Downie in his accompanying commentary analyses Mr Powell's statements and takes up in particular Mr Powell's argument that claiming rights for one person entails compulsion on another person. In Professor Downie's view there is nothing in Article 25 (I) that cannot embody acceptable moral rights, the commonly accepted interpretation of that Article of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which many people think is wholly acceptable.
PMCID: PMC1154594  PMID: 604483
23.  Researching Prescription Drug Misuse among First Nations in Canada: Starting from a Health Promotion Framework 
The intentional misuse of psychotropic drugs is recognized as a significant public health concern in Canada, although there is a lack of empirical research detailing this. Even less research has been documented on the misuse of prescription drugs among First Nations in Canada. In the past, Western biomedical and individual-based approaches to researching Indigenous health have been applied, whereas First Nations’ understandings of health are founded on a holistic view of wellbeing. Recognition of this disjuncture, alongside the protective influence of First Nations traditional culture, is foundational to establishing an empirical understanding of and comprehensive response to prescription drug misuse. We propose health promotion as a framework from which to begin to explore this. Our work with a health promotion framework has conveyed its potential to support the consideration of Western and Indigenous worldviews together in an ‘ethical space’, with illustrations provided. Health promotion also allots for the consideration of Canada’s colonial history of knowledge production in public health and supports First Nations’ self-determination. Based on this, we recommend three immediate ways in which a health promotion framework can advance research on prescription drug misuse among First Nations in Canada.
PMCID: PMC3411531  PMID: 22879752
intentional prescription drug misuse; First Nations; health promotion framework; Indigenous health
24.  The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress: in search of state obligations in relation to health 
After having received little attention over the past decades, one of the least known human rights—the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications—has had its dust blown off. Although included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)—be it at the very end of both instruments -this right hardly received any attention from States, UN bodies and programmes and academics. The role of science in societies and its benefits and potential danger were discussed in various international fora, but hardly ever in a human rights context. Nowadays, within a world that is increasingly turning to science and technology for solutions to persistent socio-economic and development problems, the human dimension of science also receives increased attention, including the human right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. This contribution analyses the possible legal obligations of States in relation to the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, in particular as regards health.
PMCID: PMC3190088  PMID: 21533845
Human Rights; International Human Rights Law; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress; Right to Health; Scientific Progress; Health
25.  Poverty-related stressors and HIV/AIDS transmission risks in two South African communities 
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 bas 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 percived community stressors were not associated with HIV risks. These findings extend the findings of previous research to show that povertyrelated stressors are associated with HIV transmission risks in some poverty-stricken communities and that these associations are not mediated by substance use.
PMCID: PMC3456564  PMID: 15888636
HIV/AIDS prevention; Southern Africa; Poverty; Heath Behavior

Results 1-25 (268296)