No Turning Back
Addressing the HIV Crisis Among Men Who Have Sex with Men
Latino MSMLatino MSM also bear a disproportionate burden of HIV. Latino MSM experience many of the same barriers to prevention as their African-American counterparts, such as stigma, economic disadvantage, and inadequate community infrastructure. However, many Latino MSM also experience unique cultural influences which may impact their decisions concerning sexual risks.
For example, cultural factors, including "machismo," "simpatía," and "familismo," are important influences in many Latino communities. "Machismo" includes the high value placed on masculinity in Latino communities.(31) "Simpatía" emphasizes the importance of smooth non-confrontational relationships and may promote silence rather than open and frank discussion about sexuality in Latino communities. (32) The importance of a close relationship with one's family, or "familismo," may also discourage openness about homosexuality if an individual feels he will cause shame or disgrace to those close to him.(32) More research is needed to better understand the roles these cultural values play in decisions concerning disclosure of sexuality, accessing HIV prevention services, and practicing safer sex behaviors.
StigmaLatino MSM are more likely than African-American MSM to identify themselves as homosexuals, but they are less likely to do so than whites.(24) Because they are less likely to live in predominantly gay neighborhoods, they are less likely to be reached by gay-oriented prevention programs.(25)
Like African-American MSM, Latino MSM struggle against the double stigma of racism and homophobia.(33) A three-city survey of more than 900 Latino MSM found that HIV infection was associated with experience of homophobic violence and/or mockery, as well as with experience of police harassment. Latino MSM who engage in high-risk sex are more likely than other Latino MSM to feel alone, have lower self-esteem, and adopt a fatalistic attitude toward HIV infection.(34)
Economic DisadvantageLatino MSM, like their African-American counterparts, may lack the economic opportunities more often available to white MSM. In 1998 and 1999, during a time of low nationwide unemployment, 27 percent of participants in the three-city National Latino Gay Men's Study said they were unemployed.(34)
Additional Challenges for Foreign-BornLatino MSM who are foreign-born also may face additional challenges. For example, undocumented MSM may fear being reported to immigration services if they seek HIV counseling and testing or access treatment services if infected. Also, research indicates that the length of time a Latino MSM has lived in the United States and his level of acculturation may affect his sexual risk behavior. For example, Latino MSM who are less acculturated are more likely to report bisexual risk behavior.(35)
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.