Few months ago Amber Brasington wrote the following comment. What are your reflection on the ideas she presented there?
The ecological metaphor, according to Nelson & Prillensky (2005, p.33), is explained in relation to reductionistic psychology. The reduction philosophy of psychology traditionally explores individual psychology and mechanisms for understanding reactions, learning and other individual strengths or weaknesses. The traditional psychology is then focused on individual behavior modifications and responses to traditional psychology such as psychotherapy. The success is then determined as an individual failure as opposed to the situational context in which that individual operates.
The ecological metaphor is then a focus on how everything from the individual's envirioment is related to other contextual intervals. These contexts are then branched as characteristics of the individual( such as type A personality, coping mechanisms), meso-level analysis, macro-level analysis to view individuals holistically(Nelson & Prillensky, 2005, p. 33). Meso-level analysis is the evaluation of the individuals specific interactions such as work setting, school setting, neighborhood organizations, associations. Larger macro-level analysis is a focus on how social policies, laws, social norms are interacting with the individual within their context.
Specifically, preventing AIDS, a global epidemic, can be thought of on an ecological metaphor of community psychology. First the individual characteristics should be discussed. There is prominent research in the field of high risk behaviors contributing to the contraction of AIDS. The transmission of aids can be either through body fluids (sexual activity, but not through kissing) and blood borne pathways(either through sharing needles, or through venipuncture). High risk behavior such as prostitiution and sex workers is a growing problem. Those who engage in these practices need direct education. Also, those who are intravenous drug users (those who use needles to get a high from drugs) are at risk of contracting HIV if needles are shared. Those people who donate blood, if donating by unsterile blood processes. Specifically, in the 80's low income 'peasants' in central China in the providence Henan, donated plasma for $7 and blood for around $28 dollars (Avert, 2010). The ban on illegal blood collection centers was implemented in 2004, but the Chinese government report still shows the problem of not testing blood donated for HIV/AIDs in 2007 (Avert, 2010). The total of HIV/AIDS cases contracted this way is thought to account for 10 % of all AIDS cases, but is contributing to the total of over half a million people in China (video, AIDS in China).
Other individual high risk behaviors are leading contribution to AIDS, such as prostitution. Sex worker's in Russia, where prostitution is legal, is combined with drug and alcohol abuse. There are specific needle exchange programs, in which individuals can attain clean needles (video, AIDS in Russia). The combination of sex and drug abuse is a problem for promoting safe sexual practices of condom use for sex workers. Usually, the pain of having to work for money by sexual acts is drowned out by drug and alcohol abuse before work. This in turn lowers the inhibitions of the worker, promoting further careless behaviors, such as going without a condom. Up to 15,000 sex workers are infected with HIV in Russia (video, AIDS in Russia). These high risk behaviors are not limited to sex workers and prostitutes, in Africa, where the larges endemic occurs, AIDS is primarily contracted through unprotected sex (sex without a condom). The lasting effects are generational and can be thought of as trauma on trauma (video, HIV in Africa). The parents who are infected have children who are infected in some cases, leaving any children who are not infected to watch the attrition of AIDS slowly and time-stakingly, remove their support systems. The fact is that only 10% of children infected get treatment for AIDS, by Anti-viral Retroactive Drugs (ARD) which could lengthen the life and improve the quality of life by six to twenty- four years, affording children the right to education and being civically involved children (video, AIDS in Africa).
While it is difficult to explain promotion of decreasing these high risk behaviors without analyzing the meso and macro levels of civilization, government and other types of organizations should fund clean needle exchanges, free condoms, commercialized advertisements through television and posterboards, HIV/AIDS testing, and individual resources for counseling and medical treatments if HIV positive. Medical clinics with ARD's should be set up as publicly known HIV/AIDS centers, where people can get help for free. Industrialized nations should be aware and make this the mission of the world to educate each member of society of the consequence of high risk behaviors, and resources if HIV/AIDS occurs for families and children. More programs should be initiated to educate nurses in the communities where they reside to promote and prevent AIDS at the meso-community level.
At the Meso-community level the focus is again poverty. Poor living conditions and lack of education are highly attributed to the increasing number of HIV/AIDS globally. Most notably, Africa, where the highest level of HIV/AIDS occurs is the country that is most need of help. Over 7,000 people die daily in Africa (video, AIDS in Africa). Only 20-10 percent of the population gets treatment from the ARD's which contributes to 'brutal death' (Video, AIDS in Africa).The largest hope for Africa must start at the Macro level of government and organizations, but individuals affected with AIDS can have grass roots action in their communities. Mostly, this is seen with students who are striving to make a difference or with those afflicted with the virus (Video, AIDS in Africa).Other organizations, such as Christian organizations, are implementing clean drinking wells for individual communities to lessen the harsh impacts of starvation and malnutrition. Mission work is a large part of reviving hope and the spirit in Africa, a country riddled with poverty, genocide and chronic diseases such as AIDS.
In China there is a program that specifically targets 3,000 orphans or children who have survived the HIV sweep in their family. The program funds a scholarship ($30 dollars for k-6 grade, and $250 for Senior HS students) to educate and provide schooling for those coming from this disrupted background(Video, AIDS in China). The program is hope for those who have lost family, been dislocated from their villages and may be residing with cousins or other family members who face these challenges daily. Reducing the number of contracted cases must also be implemented in school, work and communities globally. Specific governmental organizations are being prompted by organizations like UNAIDS to make a local commitment. The numbers are telling that without a number of implementations the number of persons and families affected by the epidemic will continue to grow (AVERT, 2010).
Macro-level analysis, is where I see the most change happening. China, has a long standing history of not promoting anti-AIDS programes' because of the fear of enabling prostitution and drug use. As they have ignored these warnings, the numbers have grown (UNAIDS, 2010). Most recently, a free condom program was implemented when the condom definition was rewritten to mean safety sheath. This distinction took the condom out of the sex commodity category and allowed free distribution of the life saving sheath (UNAIDS, 2010). The reframing of the way governments accept to fund programs to prevent AIDS may be an underlying strength of Communities Psychologists globally (Nelson & Prillensky, 2005). Another example of reframing policy, is when China implemented HIV testing for government and local officials into the health exam. The persons consent was in general for the health exam, not necessarily for the HIV testing itself, making the test more widely used and available for identifying those who have contracted the virus (AVERT, 2010).
Another prevention strategy at the Macro-analysis level is calling upon pharmaceutical companies to fund and mass distribute the ARD's. The drug can be mass produced and at low costs to the pharmaceutical companies. The result would be increasing treatment and use of treatment globally, but specifically in Africa where treatment statistics are low (Video: AIDS in Africa). This would take funding from the governments and take a concerted effort to focus directly on this intervention. Educational programmers' cannot be left out of this debate at the macro level. It must be a value of the government to protect and promote the wellness of its citizens. While China banned illegal blood banking, healthcare systems are still not testing the donated blood before giving it to ill people. Healthcare systems play a major role in every major country to focus on the genital assessment, giving attention to prevention of AIDS through condom use. As difficult as it is to talk about sex from a healthcare professional standpoint, it means the difference between life and death of individuals, families and communities. If social policies were written into these healthcare regulations, especially by JAHCO in America, this is a start. I believe when a leader of any sort of macro impact takes a stance, the effects then trickle down to the individual interconnectedness level which is where the key prevention strategies do the people social justice. Leaders should take a stance to acknowledge the AIDS crisis and lead others to prevent and promote it.