HIVE + HIV Care

One of the best, if not the best, classes that I have taken in my Brandeis career is Prof. Derron Wallace’s Sociology of Race, Gender, and Class. The course holds these identities “as influential, interlocking dimensions…that shape institutions, dynamics, processes, and cultures.” One’s identity affects the ways in which they interact with institutions, as well as the way that institutions interact with them. Sociology of Race, Gender, and Class relied heavily on Kimberlé Crenshaw’s idea of intersectionality as a lens through which one can analyze systems and hierarchies of power. Professor Wallace’s class, through his emphasis on intersectionality as a critique of institutions, taught me to never take experiences at face value, as they are informed by systemic modes of oppression.

This interrogative energy fuels much of HIVE’s work as they are committed to more than just medical care. HIVE not only provides medical care, but also intensive case management because they recognize that one’s HIV status also intersects with other facets of one’s identity. As I noted in my previous blog post, HIVE holds HIV as an identity that coexists and intersects with other marginalized identities; for example, the ways in which people of color and folks with lower incomes are disproportionately affected by HIV. To read about how HIV intersects with other identities, visit: https://www.hiveonline.org/black-queer-woman-sex-education-advocate/

Every week, the HIVE team meets to discuss updates on patients’ medical, social, financial—and many other—situations. For example, the HIVE social worker might note that a patient who needed emergency housing was able to stay with a friend for a couple of days. Or a patient who was struggling with depression was referred to and attended an OB psych appointment. Taking the time to discuss the needs, the successes, the trials of patients each week signals that HIVE recognizes that each patient’s experience is unique, dynamic and cannot be singly categorized by their HIV status. They are experiencing so much outside of their health that subsequently informs their health. 

More than this, HIVE recognizes the barriers to healthcare, not only limited to initial access but also barriers to retention in HIV care. Much of HIVE’s work is dedicated to keeping patients engaged in HIV care postpartum. There are many obstacles that might stand in the way of someone being engaged in care, with one of the biggest barriers being access—financial, geographic—to medical facilities. Other barriers include mental health and familial and social complications, among others. HIVE recognizes specifically that trauma can act as an obstacle in engaging in medical care and can keep someone from continuing medical care. To watch a video HIVE produced on caring for women with a history of trauma, visit: https://www.hiveonline.org/caring-women-history-trauma/.

Ultimately, HIVE is marked by their holistic and comprehensive approach to HIV care. The HIVE team is deeply dedicated to advocating for women and couples whose lives are affected by HIV and whose HIV status is compounded by their other lived experiences.