Research for Social Change: Addressing Social Structures That Increase HIV/STI Vulnerability Among Latino Men
For over three decades, researchers have attempted to characterize the nature of the HIV epidemic in the Americas. It has become well established that the burden of HIV infection is disproportionately carried by men who have sex with men (MSM), among whom the HIV epidemic is concentrated, as well as other socially marginalized groups, such as sex workers, people who inject drugs, homeless, and migrant populations. In the U.S., Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Common to populations heavily affected by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) is exposure to structural factors that increase their vulnerability to HIV/STI transmission.
Despite increased awareness of the impact of structural factors on individual HIV-risk practices and the recognition that behavior change interventions work better when the broader structural factors are also addressed, most HIV prevention efforts continue to overlook the underlying context where risks take place. To extend the research on structural factors that increase HIV risks among vulnerable populations, and to help inform contextually appropriate prevention programs, the panelists describe in this symposium how the interaction of structural forces (i.e., lack of HIV information/knowledge, lack of health services, population mobility and mixing, homelessness, and occupation) increase the risk for HIV/STI acquisition among Latino men.
Drawing from a mixed methods study in New York City, and using sex market theory and the literature on structural violence, Dr. Munoz-Laboy will discuss the relationship between type of occupation and sexual risk taking among bisexual Latino men. Based on focus groups with homeless youth and social service providers, Dr. Bouris will discuss the contextual factors that shape vulnerability to HIV/AIDS among young Latino MSM. Drawing from in-depth interviews with indigenous MSM in Guatemalan towns near the Guatemala/Mexico border, Dr. Orellana will discuss the impact of migration, stigma and discrimination on HIV vulnerability at the gateway of North America. Implications for current and future prevention and intervention research will be discussed by the panel and the audience.