A Waiting Room of Their Own: The Family Care Network as a Model for Providing Gender-Specific Legal Services to Women With HIV
30 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2007
Many clients eligible for legal aid are underserved, and providers have undertaken a variety of strategies to expand assistance. Legal services providers to people with HIV have tailored delivery models in response to the needs of groups within the HIV-infected community.
This article chronicles the legal community's culture-specific responses to the changing demographics of the HIV epidemic, from the early days of the "gay plague" and the first wave of the HIV to the second-wave needs of low-income people with HIV. We identify the "third wave" of the HIV epidemic, which is marked by the large growth in the number of HIV-infected women - especially women of color - and explore the gender-specific barriers that make it difficult for them to access legal services.
We describe the Berkeley Community Law Center's HIV/AIDS Law Project and its participation in the Family Care Network ("FCN"), a multidisciplinary collaborative serving low-income women, children and adolescents with HIV. The FCN brings together a broad range of disciplines and services under one roof and links the providers in a care team to address some of the most complex needs of women and families with HIV. The lawyer's role within the FCN is designed explicitly to respond to the needs of HIV-infected women by emphasizing: 1) "one-stop shopping;" 2) proactive needs assessment; 3) early intervention; and 4) multidisciplinary coordination of services.
The FCN model has shown great promise for increasing and improving services to women with HIV. The synergy of a multidisciplinary team increases considerably the information and options available to HIV-infected women as they make important health care, legal and other decisions for themselves. The new delivery system also raises challenging questions, however, about the role of the attorneys and law students, their relationships to clients, and the feasibility of reproducing the model elsewhere.
Keywords: HIV, Legal Services Delivery, Poverty, Health
JEL Classification: I3, L3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation