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Surviving HIV/AIDS in the Inner City

How Resourceful Latinas Beat the Odds

Sabrina Marie Chase

Publication Year: 2011

Surviving HIV/AIDS in the Inner City explores the survival strategies of poor, HIV-positive Puerto Rican women by asking four key questions: Given their limited resources, how did they manage an illness as serious as HIV/AIDS? Did they look for alternatives to conventional medical treatment? Did the challenges they faced deprive them of self-determination, or could they help themselves and each other? What can we learn from these resourceful women?



Based on her work with minority women living in Newark, New Jersey, Sabrina Marie Chase illuminates the hidden traps and land mines burdening our current health care system as a whole. For the women she studied, alliances with doctors, nurses, and social workers could literally mean the difference between life and death. By applying the theories of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu to the day-to-day experiences of HIV-positive Latinas, Chase explains why some struggled and even died while others flourished and thrived under difficult conditions. These gripping, true-life stories advocate for those living with chronic illness who depend on the health care "safety net." Through her exploration of life and death among Newark's resourceful women, Chase provides the groundwork for inciting positive change in the U.S. health care system.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

The resourceful women of Newark, Elizabeth, and New Brunswick, New Jersey, made this book possible through the generous gifts of their time, trust, and friendship. Both they and their families took a chance by taking me under their wings. Many others also deserve...

Abbreviations

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pp. xv-xvii

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1. Torn between Structure and Agency

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pp. 1-20

Caridad and her son, Manuelito, had lived in Newark for only a year when she got married. This was an unexpected blessing. Caridad had left Puerto Rico to escape an abusive relationship with her longtime partner, a violent IV drug user. When she arrived she hoped...

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2. Resourceful Women

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pp. 21-60

Here you will meet New Jersey’s resourceful women through my eyes. I tell these stories with the full awareness that I have, in some sense, constructed them. Though I have drawn from women’s own words whenever possible, they do not speak for themselves. If they...

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3. Unpacking Newark’s Epidemic

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pp. 61-88

In order to understand the impact of cultural and social capital on the lives of Caridad and her cohorts, it is crucial to understand the city in which most of them lived. When I began planning my study in the mid-1990s, most of the women I worked with had just begun...

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4. Understanding HIV

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pp. 89-110

The women I worked with all had acquaintances, friends, and even family members who had contracted the virus, but they were unprepared to hear the diagnosis themselves. HIV/AIDS was something that happened to other people. They had all been exposed to both...

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5. Managing Social Services

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pp. 111-128

One day I arrived at Nini’s house to find her stalking around the kitchen with an annoyed expression. “What’s the matter?” I asked, as we flopped down at the kitchen table. “I just got off the phone with my case manager,” Nini huffed. “She heard about a job and she wants me...

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6. Working the Clinics

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pp. 129-145

One sunny afternoon I stopped at Carlotta’s apartment to see how she was doing. When she opened the door I could see from the look on her face that something was wrong. Before we...

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7. Taking Care of Yourself

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pp. 146-163

I feel tired when I go out and, you know, all I wanna be is in the house. I’m not like before that I used to be running here and running there, and you know, now it’s like, I wanna be comfortable, you know, in the house, in my house. Not in nobody’s...

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8. Learning from Resourceful Women

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pp. 164-172

I began my work with Newark’s resourceful women by asking four key questions. Given their limited resources, how did they manage an illness as serious as HIV/AIDS? Did they seek out alternatives to conventional medicine and, if so, what kind? Could they...

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Epilogue: Sorrows and Joys

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pp. 173-188

Ten years have passed since I left the field. My experiences with northern New Jersey’s resourceful women have shaped who I am and how I see the world. I cannot imagine who I would have become without them. My relationships with some women stayed strong, while...

Reference List

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pp. 189-200

Index

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pp. 201-208

About the Author

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pp. 209-


E-ISBN-13: 9780813553481
E-ISBN-10: 0813553482

Page Count: 228
Illustrations: 8
Publication Year: 2011