Alyse Wheelock, 2011, Anthropology

I spent this past summer at Clinica Familiar Luis ingel Garcia, a small HIV/AIDS clinic within a larger public hospital in Guatemala City. The clinic provides free ARVis, regular medical consultation, laboratory tests, and psychological services to people of all ages living with HIV/AIDS. I spent my time at Clinica Familiar in varied ways, trying to familiarize myself with the many services of the clinic and conducting a project on a common opportunistic infection called Histoplasmosis. I observed the medical consultations of the adult doctors and the initial blood tests performed by the clinic psychologists. Outside of the clinic itself, I participated in the required workshops for new patients of the clinic and for individuals who have not been
adherent to their medications. These observations offered a richer context to tmy project on Histoplasmosis, a fungal infection that has a high mortality rate among PLWHAis in Guatemala and in other regions of Central America. My project was based on interviews with individuals who had been diagnosed with the infection, doctors, and social workers at the clinic. In my interviews with clinic patients, I sought to learn more about the backgrounds of the individuals diagnosed with Histoplasmosis, their understandings and perspectives of the disease, and their culturally mediated understandings of the symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment of Histoplasmosis. My project also involved studying patient records and interviewing doctors to learn more about diagnostic and treatment procedures, as well as the infectionis evolution in the clinic since its inception 20 years ago.