The fifth chapter of AIDS and Mental Health Policy discusses the disadvantages and challenges of women within the HIV/AIDS community, as well as the prevention strategies of women to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Entitled as “HIV Prevention, Women, and the Kitchen Sink Model,” the chapter is authored by Annette Hughes. In this chapter, Hughes (1999) discusses the challenges of women in a community plagued with HIV. Note that when the disease was first identified, the first few cases featured homosexuals and drug injection users. Knowing this, organizations and advocacies focused on gay men, creating an illusion that gay men are the most at risk people to contract the disease. However, even after the disease was recognized to affect all types of groups, the leading organizations and propaganda were still more focused on gay men. Due to these and various events, the public unknowingly created a disparity, where women were the disadvantaged group, in the availability of services and programs designed for HIV/AIDS patients.
In this chapter, Hughes (1999) emphasized that before we had an outstanding knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS, lesbians were thought to be the least at risk of having HIV. Moreover, when HIV prevention efforts were first targeted for women, it was largely because due to the idea that women were the medium of the disease. Women were seen as "vectors" of the disease, transmitting the disease through sex work and pregnancies. Furthermore, due to the fact that HIV prevention efforts were largely focused on white gay men, prevention and education strategies did not work for other groups, such as black gay men, women, or women of color (Hughes, 1999).
In addition, Hughes (1999) stated that women at high risk of having HIV usually have multiple vulnerabilities, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, and poverty. Addressing these issues at the same time seemed to be difficult, which is why the Kitchen Sink model became the most appropriate in dealing many vulnerabilities. The model addresses the most salient needs of women at high risk of HIV infection.
Finally, Hughes (1999) worked on the project WHEEL, a comprehensive pilot test of HIV prevention effort targeting women at risk. With this project, Hughes (1999) discussed the problems in identifying the behavior that makes women more vulnerable to HIV infection. Most of the population sample believed that they have a low chance of contracting HIV, others said that the circumstances placing them at risk are inevitable and cannot be changed, while others believed that some circumstances far outweighs having a higher risk of contracting HIV. By identifying the behaviors placing them at risk, the WHEEL can be a successful program that may change how HIV prevention efforts treat groups especially women.
Hughes, Annette. (1999). HIV Prevention, Women, and the Kitchen Sink Model. In Michael Shernoff (ed.) AIDS and Mental Health Practice: Clinical and Policy Issues (pp. 55-65). USA: Routledge.