An exploratory phenomenological study of black feminist leadership in HIV/AIDS community work

Denise Mclane Davison, Clark Atlanta University


While black women have historically addressed issues of social injustice in the black community, their leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS has been largely overlooked. HIV/AIDS is a leading health disparity for black women ages 25 to 44. While other populations have seen a decline in their rates of infection since the early 1990s, the rates of infection for black women have consistently increased (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). Black women’s leadership in HIV/AIDS community work has been understudied as a viable means of engagement in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The intersection of race and gender, as described in black feminist thought. may influence black women’s leadership development and how they impact certain social issues such as HIV/AIDS. This exploratory research study includes a snowball sampling of black women leaders involved in HIV/AIDS community work. Through semi-structured interviews the researcher gained insightful knowledge about how black women experience leadership in their HIV/AIDS work in the face of the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic amongst black women. The results add to contemporary descriptions of leadership, place black women’s leadership in its historical context, and helps us to better understand how gender and race impact leadership.