Analyzing the Role of Social Workers in Supporting People Living With HIV in New York City During the 1990s

Main Article Content

Azahah Abu Hassan Shaari
Siti Marziah Zakaria
Surendran Rajaratnam
Ruzaini Ijon
Ateerah Abdul Razak
Wan Puspa Melati Wan Abdul Halim
Bernadine Waller


Social workers play a crucial role in empowering people living with HIV (PLHIV) and their family members. This qualitative study aimed to reflect social workers’ experiences working with PLHIV in New York City in the 1990s. Using a qualitative narrative inquiry method and convenience sampling technique, two social workers who experienced working with PLHIV in New York City in the 1990s were interviewed for this study. Findings revealed that since the beginning of the epidemic, social workers have played crucial roles in providing a range of psychosocial services for PLHIV, including individual therapy and support groups. Furthermore, social workers acted as advocates who demanded social rights and social justice for the HIV population. Finally, social workers, in the early discovery of HIV, collaborated with the community of PLHIV to establish some of the early nonprofit organizations to overcome the structural barriers, including gender inequity and stigma, for PLHIV to live well.

Article Details

How to Cite
Abu Hassan Shaari, A., Zakaria, S. M., Rajaratnam, S. ., Ijon, R., Abdul Razak, A., Wan Abdul Halim, W. P. M. ., & Waller, B. (2024). Analyzing the Role of Social Workers in Supporting People Living With HIV in New York City During the 1990s. Journal of Population and Social Studies [JPSS], 32, 669–686. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biography

Azahah Abu Hassan Shaari, Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia

Corresponding author


• Altman, D., & Buse, K. (2012). Thinking politically about HIV: Political analysis and action in response to AIDS. Contemporary Politics, 18(2), 127–140.

• Auerbach, C., & Beckerman, N. L. (2010). HIV/AIDS prevention in New York City: Identifying sociocultural needs of the community. Social Work in Health Care, 49(2), 109–133.

• Bell, J. (2020). Between private and public: AIDS, health care capitalism, and the politics of respectability in 1980s America. Journal of American Studies, 54(1), 159–183.

• Blendon, R. J., & Donelan, K. (1988). Discrimination against people with AIDS. The New England Journal of Medicine, 319(15), 1022–1026.

• Bohm, E. (1987). Effects on psychotherapy in New York City. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 25(12), 26–31.

• Booth, S. H. (2017). A comparison of the early responses to AIDS in the UK and the US. Res Medica, 24(1), 57–64.

• Bowen, B., Marconi, K., Köhn, S., Bailey, D. M., Goosby, G., Shorter, S., & Niemcryk, S. J. (1992). First year of AIDS services delivery under Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act. Public Health Reports, 107(5), 491–499.

• Cahill, S., Mayer, K. H., & Boswell, S. L. (2015). The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program in the age of health care reform. American Journal of Public Health, 105(6), 1078–1085.

• Carter, D. B. (1989). Societal implications of AIDS and HIV infection: Marriage and Family Review, 13(1–2), 129–186.

• Cole, C., & Denny, H., III. (1994). Visualizing deviance in post-Reagan America: Magic Johnson, AIDS, and the promiscuous world of professional sport. Critical Sociology, 20(3), 123–147.

• Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2016). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (4th ed.). SAGE Publications.

• Des Jarlais, D. C., & Friedman, S. R. (1988). HIV infection among persons who inject illicit drugs: problems and prospects. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 1(3), 267–273.

• Dhooper S. S., Royse D. D., & Tran T. V. (1987). Social work practitioners' attitudes towards AIDS victims. Journal of Applied Social Science, 12, 108–123.

• Eaton, A., Craig, S. L., & Wallace, R. (2017). The intersecting cognitive and aging needs of HIV-positive older adults: Implications for social work practice. Social Work in Health Care, 56(8), 733–747.

• Eboko, F., & Mbengue, B. (2018). Patterns of mobilization: Political culture in the fight against AIDS. In The African state and the AIDS crisis. Routledge.

• Edmonds, A. T., Moore, E., Valdez, A., & Tomlinson, C. (2015). Social work and the HIV care continuum: Assisting HIV patients diagnosed in an emergency department. Social Work, 60(3), 238–246.

• Francis, D. P. (2012). Deadly AIDS policy failure by the highest levels of the US government: A personal look back 30 years later for lessons to respond better to future epidemics. Journal of Public Health Policy, 33(3), 290–300.

• Fraser, H. (2004). Doing narrative research. Qualitative Social Work, 3(2), 179–201.

• Gambe, R., & Getzel, G. S. (1989). Group work with gay men with AIDS. Families in Society, 70(3), 172–179.

• Ginossar, T., Oetzel, J. G., Van Meter, L., Gans, A., & Gallant, J. E. (2019). The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act full implementation: A critical review of predictions, evidence, and future directions. Topics in Antiviral Medicine, 27(3), 91–100.

• Gitterman, A., Knight, C., & Germain, C. B. (2021). The life model of social work Practice: Advances in theory and practice (4th ed.). Columbia University Press.

• Goldberg, J. E. (1989). AIDS: Confidentiality and the social worker. Social Thought, 15(3–4), 116–127.

• Greene, W. C. (2007). A history of AIDS: Looking back to see ahead. European Journal of Immunology, 37(S1), S94–S102.

• Grossman, M. (1988). Children with AIDS. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America, 2(2), 533–542.

• Hall, N. (2007). We care don’t we? Social Work in Health Care, 44(1–2), 55–72.

• Haney, P. J. (1988). Providing empowerment to the person with AIDS. Social Work, 33(3), 251–253.

• Hays, R., Kegeles, S. M., & Coates, T. J. (1990). High HIV risk-taking among young gay men. AIDS, 4(9), 901–908.

• Heywood, A., & Chin, C. (2023). Political theory: An introduction (5th ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing.

• Humble, M. N., Bride, B. E., Kolomer, S., & Reeves, P. M. (2012). Evolution of a virus: The framing of HIV/AIDS in social work journals. Social Work, 57(4), 371–376.

• Jacobson, L. (2020). President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Policy process and the conversation around HIV/AIDS in the United States. Journal of Development Policy and Practice, 5(2), 149–166.

• Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). (2021, June 7). The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States: The basics.

• Lacombe‐Duncan, A., Guţă, A., & Newman, P. A. (2021). Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) implementation for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men: Implications for social work practice. Health & Social Work, 46(1), 22–32.

• Linsk, N. L. (2011). Thirty years into the HIV Epidemic: Social work perspectives and prospects. Journal of Hiv/Aids & Social Services, 10(3), 218–229.

• Lomax, G. L., & Sandler, J. C. (1988). Psychotherapy and consultation with persons with AIDS. Psychiatric Annals, 18(4), 253–259.

• Longini, I. M., Clark, W. S., Byers, R. H., Ward, J. W., Darrow, W. W., Lemp, G. F., & Hethcote, H. W. (1989). Statistical analysis of the stages of HIV infection using a Markov model. Statistics in Medicine, 8(7), 831–843.

• Mantell, J. E., Shulman, L., Belmont, M. F., & Spivak, H. (1989). Social workers respond to the AIDS epidemic in an acute care hospital. Health & Social Work, 14(1), 41–51.

• Marder, R. E., & Linsk, N. L. (1995). Addressing AIDS long-term care issues through education and advocacy. Health & Social Work, 20(1), 75–80.

• Metcalfe, K., Langstaff, J. E., Evans, S., Paterson, H. M., & Reid, J. L. (1998). Meeting the needs of women living with HIV. Public Health Nursing, 15(1), 30–34.

• Miller, N. (1989). Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. Vintage Books

• Murphree, J. N., Batey, D. S., Kay, E. S., Westfall, A. O., & Mugavero, M. J. (2018). Suboptimal retention in care among recently released prisoners: Implications for social workers in HIV primary care. AIDS and Behavior, 23(2), 427–432.

• Nelson, K. M., Gamarel, K. E., Pantalone, D. W., Carey, M. P., & Simoni, J. M. (2016). Sexual debut and HIV-related sexual risk-taking by birth cohort among men who have sex with men in the United States. AIDS and Behavior, 20(10), 2286–2295.

• NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (2020, March 31). New York City HIV/AIDS Annual Surveillance Statistics 2019: HIV Epidemiology Program.

• Owens, C. L., Voorheis, E., Lester, J. N., Green, H. D., Herbenick, D., Dodge, B., & Hubach, R. D. (2023). The lived experiences of rural HIV social workers. AIDS Care, 35(1), 48–52.

• Peterson, K. J. (1991). Social workers’ knowledge about AIDS: A national survey. Social Work, 36(1), 31–37.

• Poirier, R. (2020). AIDS and traditions of homophobia. Social Research an International Quarterly, 87(2), 437–450.

• Povian, G., & Runcan, P. L. (2017). Role of social workers in communicating a positive HIV test result and in HIV pre-and post-test counselling. Revista De Asistenţă Socială/Social Work Review, 27(2), 125–134.

• Reamer, F. G. (1988). AIDS and ethics: The agenda for social workers. Social Work, 33(5), 460–464.

• Reamer, F. G. (1993). AIDS and social work: The ethics and civil liberties agenda. Social Work, 38(4), 412–419.

• Reese, D. J., & Sontag, M. (2001). Successful interprofessional collaboration on the hospice team. Health & Social Work, 26(3), 167–175.

• Rivet Amico, K., & Bekker, L.-G. (2019). Global prep roll-out: Recommendations for programmatic success. The Lancet HIV, 6(2), E137–E140.

• Rowan, D. M., & Honeycutt, J. (2010). The impact of the Ryan White Treatment Modernization Act on social work within the field of HIV/AIDS service provision. Health & Social Work, 35(1), 71–74.

• Ruth, B. J., & Marshall, J. W. (2017). A history of social work in public health. American Journal of Public Health, 107(S3), S236–S242.

• Ryan, C. (1988). The social and clinical challenges of aids. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 59(1), 3–20.

• Schilling, R. F., Morrish, J. N., & Liu, G. (2008). Demographic trends in social work over a quarter-century in an increasingly female profession. Social Work, 53(2), 103–114.

• Schinke, S. P., Schilling, R. F., Krauskopf, M. S., Botvin, G. J., & Orlandi, M. (1988). AIDS and social work: Journal of Social Work and Human Sexuality, 6(2), 105–119.

• Shernoff, M. (1988). Integrating safer-sex counseling into social work practice. Families in Society, 69(6), 334–339.

• Shernoff, M. (1990). Why every social worker should be challenged by AIDS. Social Work, 35(1), 5–8.

• Tan, A. M. (2013). Social workers take a closer look at HIV & AIDS. Social Work and Christianity, 40(2), 141–143.

• Taylor-Brown, S., & Garcia, A. C. (1995). Social workers and HIV-affected families: Is the profession prepared? Social Work, 40(1), 14–15.

• Teater, B. (2019). An introduction to applying social work theories and methods (3rd ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

• Thomas, P., Weisfuse, I. B., Greenberg, A. E., Bernard, G., Tytun, A., & Stellman, S. D. (1993). Trends in the first ten years of AIDS in New York City. American Journal of Epidemiology, 137(2), 121–133.

• U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2023, November 15). HIV and AIDS Epidemic Global Statistics.

• Valdiserri, R. O., Lyter, D. W., Leviton, L. C., Callahan, C. L., Kingsley, L., & Rinaldo, C. R. (1988). Variables influencing condom use in a cohort of gay and bisexual men. American Journal of Public Health, 78(7), 801–805.

• Walz, T., & Groze, V. (1991). The mission of social work revisited: An agenda for the 1990s. Social Work, 36(6), 500–504.

• Wheeler, D. P. (2007). HIV and AIDS Today: Where is social work going? Health & Social Work, 32(2), 155–157.

• Wheeler, D. P. (2011). Advancing HIV/AIDS domestic agenda: Social work and community health workers unite. Health & Social Work, 36(2), 157–158.

• Wiener, L. (2003). Group intervention in the early days of the GRID epidemic: A reflection of one social worker’s personal experience. In B. Willinger & A. Rice (Eds.). A history of AIDS social work in hospitals: A daring response to an epidemic (pp. 179–190). Routledge.

• Willinger, B. I. (2003). The missing support: Group interventions with AIDS patients. In B. I. Willinger & A. Rice (Eds.), A history of AIDS social work in hospitals: A daring response to an epidemic (pp. 155–160). Haworth Press.

• Willinger, B. I., & Rice, A. (2003). A history of AIDS social work in hospitals: A daring response to an epidemic. Haworth Press.