September 28, 2017 | In the News

Startling new statistics from the CDC show that if current rates of new HIV infection remain steady, one in six gay/bisexual men will become infected with HIV in their lifetimes. In response, some providers are reexamining how they approach HIV, and viewing it as a symptom of a larger, underlying problem: trauma.

This Psychology Today article features quotes from Dr. Edward Machtinger, director of the Women’s HIV Program at the University of California, San Francisco, and a participant in the Center for Health Care Strategies’ Advancing Trauma-Informed Care initiative.

Instead of treating symptoms with medications, this new paradigm of ‘trauma-informed care’ aims to address medical and mental health problems by getting to the root causes of so many of those problems—and thereby promote genuine healing…For younger gay men, Machtinger said, “Their HIV seems to be a symptom or consequence of an underlying history of trauma or discrimination, toxic stress, or whatever else is going on in their lives that puts them at risk for HIV.”

As for solutions, Machtinger said, “Reducing isolation is by far the most effective way I have found to help people develop coping mechanisms that are more healthy, that allow them to leave abusive partners, to forgive themselves, and ultimately to become leaders in their communities.” He added, “The single most effective intervention that we have, and that I have witnessed to help people heal from the impact of trauma, has been disclosure and community-building. Period.