Exploring the role of empowerment in Black women’s HIV and AIDS activism in the United States: An integrative literature review


Black women in the United States continue to be disproportionately affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. HIV/AIDS activism among Black women for Black women may be one solution to reduce the disparate rates of HIV/AIDS among Black women. However, little is known about what processes and experiences prompt Black women to participate in HIV/AIDS activism. In this paper, I aim to identify mechanisms of empowerment for Black women to engage in HIV/AIDS activism. I draw upon empowerment theory as a theoretical framework to guide analysis of the literature and to offer a strengths-based perspective on Black women’s efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. An extensive literature search was conducted to identify studies of Black women’s participation in HIV/AIDS activism. The search yielded 11 studies that were included for review. Synthesis of the literature indicated the following analytic themes as mechanisms of empowerment for Black women to participate in HIV/AIDS activism: relationships and interactions with others, critical awareness, self-reflection, and spirituality. Article limitations, suggestions for future research, and implications for social change are also discussed. Overall, findings from this study suggest that there are unique mechanisms that facilitate psychological empowerment and prompt Black women’s entry into HIV/AIDS activism.


Rutledge JD




  • Population(s)
    • Women
    • Ethnoracial communities
    • General HIV+ population
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Prevention
  • Prevention
    • Education/media campaigns


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