Study Finds Poor Communication Between African American Mothers and Daughters on HIV/AIDS

BergerMichelle T. Berger, an associate professor in the department of women’s and gender studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has conducted a focus group study of African American mothers and their daughters on the risk of HIV/AIDS. The mothers and daughters were interviewed in separate groups. African Americans account for 57 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases among women.

Dr. Berger research found that many African American mothers did not consider HIV/AIDS to be a major health risk compared with other concerns such as breast cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Some of the African American mothers expressed the opinion that they didn’t think their daughters would participate in behaviors that would expose them to the risk of HIV/AIDS.

In the daughters’ focus groups, many of the young women stated that they did not feel comfortable talking about sex-related issues with their mothers. Dr. Berger found that most mothers stated that they were open to talking about such issues with their daughters, but their daughters did not agree.

Dr. Berger is the author of Workable Sisterhood: The Political Journey of Stigmatized Women With HIV/AIDS (Princeton University Press, 2004) and Transforming Scholarship: Why Women’s and Gender Studies Students Are Changing Themselves and the World (Routledge, 2011).

Dr. Berger has been a member of the faculty at the University of North Carolina since 2002. She previously served on the faculty of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Dr. Berger is a graduate of Bard College in New York and holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan.


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