Critical consciousness, racial and gender discrimination, and HIV disease markers in African American women with HIV

Gwendolyn A. Kelso, Mardge H. Cohen, Kathleen M. Weber, Sannisha K. Dale, Ruth C. Cruise, Leslie R. Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Critical consciousness, the awareness of social oppression, is important to investigate as a buffer against HIV disease progression in HIV-infected African American women in the context of experiences with discrimination. Critical consciousness comprises several dimensions, including social group identification, discontent with distribution of social power, rejection of social system legitimacy, and a collective action orientation. The current study investigated self-reported critical consciousness as a moderator of perceived gender and racial discrimination on HIV viral load and CD4+ cell count in 67 African American HIV-infected women. Higher critical consciousness was found to be related to higher likelihood of having CD4+ counts over 350 and lower likelihood of detectable viral load when perceived racial discrimination was high, as revealed by multiple logistic regressions that controlled for highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) adherence. Multiple linear regressions showed that at higher levels of perceived gender and racial discrimination, women endorsing high critical consciousness had a larger positive difference between nadir CD4+ (lowest pre-HAART) and current CD4+ count than women endorsing low critical consciousness. These findings suggest that raising awareness of social oppression to promote joining with others to enact social change may be an important intervention strategy to improve HIV outcomes in African American HIV-infected women who report experiencing high levels of gender and racial discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1237-1246
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • African American women
  • Critical consciousness
  • HIV
  • Perceived gender discrimination
  • Perceived racial discrimination
  • Protective factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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