Medical Mistrust, Conspiracy Beliefs & HIV-Related Behavior Among African Americans
Kelsey Ball; William Lawson, MD, PhD; Tanya Alim, MD

Health care promotion and disease prevention among African Americans has become a significant area of study due to the number of medical issues that disproportionately affect the Black community. HIV research, in particular, has received a great deal of attention due to the destructive cognitive behavioral and lifestyle components that are believed to promote the transmission of the virus. A long history of medical experimentation and abuses of African Americans has led to feelings of vulnerability, suspicion and mistrust towards institutions of medicine among the Black community. This paper explores literature surrounding these suspicions and points to historical events and possible triggers of medical mistrust. Also, this review highlights an irony within the African American community: these very conspiracy beliefs and feelings of medical mistrust may actually be leading to a series of maladaptive and self-destructive behaviors that may be stifling HIV treatment and prevention efforts within this population.

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