Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Immigrants--Iowa--Cedar Rapids--Attitudes; Immigrants--Health and hygiene--Iowa--Cedar Rapids; Africans--Iowa--Cedar Rapids--Attitudes; Africans--Health and hygiene--Iowa--Cedar Rapids; Academic theses;


The purpose of the study was to elucidate and understand the HIV/ AIDS knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes among selected Central African immigrants who live in Cedar Rapids, IA. Included in the study was the identification, availability, and accessibility of HIV/AIDS health services tailored to meet the needs of the African immigrants. A convenience sample of20 (10 males and 10 females) African immigrants originally from Burundi and Rwanda were individually interviewed at their homes. The interview instrument was modeled after and utilized questions from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) of the Center for Disease Control (CDC),which were adjusted to this population. All interviews were done in the participants' native languages, Kinyarwanda and Kirundi. The study found that there were misconceptions about the mode of transmission of the HIV/ AIDS disease. Participants did not believe that not understanding the cause and transmission of HIV/AIDS put them at risk of being infected by the disease. Twenty percent of participants questioned the existence of the AIDS disease. There was skepticism about whether HIV/ AIDS is a health issue among Africans immigrants. Participants who acknowledged HIV/AIDS as a killer disease did not believe reports that indicated an increase of AIDS cases among African immigrants. Participants were not aware of any available health services aimed at African immigrants, or where to find information related to HIV/ AIDS education. Also noted were shortcomings or silence when discussing safe sex practices or other sexual health issues. Ninety percent of all participants cited that sexual health issues were a private matter. Findings also included a linear attitude towards basic knowledge of the HIV/AIDS disease among all participants. The majority (90 percent) of participants were much more concerned with other health issues than AIDS. Examples cited were lack of health coverage, not understanding the American health systems, and lack of understanding basic health promotion messages. The study found that the root causes of any misinformation and/or misunderstanding are the language barriers, myths, and stigma about the AIDS disease. In addition, there was a high level of illiteracy among participants. Thirty percent of respondents had less than an elementary education, while 20 percent completed elementary education, and 50 percent had no formal education. The study concluded that a literacy program should be put in place to teach central African immigrants English, reading, and writing. In order to respond to health disparities that already exist among minority populations in Iowa and elsewhere in the country, the study suggests that culture tailored health education programs must be planned and implemented to benefit the African immigrant population in Cedar Rapids, IA. Additionally, an HIV/AIDS education program focusing on the specific needs of African immigrant communities must be on the front agenda of health education in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Catherine Zeman

Second Advisor

Dennis Cryer

Third Advisor

Scharron Clayton


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Date Original


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