, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 213-226

Connecting The Dots: When the Risks of HIV/STD Infection Appear High But the Burden of Infection Is Not Known—The Case of Male Latino Migrants in the Southern United States

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Abstract

Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Latinos in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, states that had no or small Latino populations in 1990, increased by more than 300% on average. Several of these states (referred to as rapid growth states) have high AIDS/STD case rates. Compared to Latinos in states with well-established Latino populations and Latinos nationwide, those in rapid growth states are more often males, young, foreign-born, and recent arrivals who travel without females. The typical Latino in rapid growth states is a young male migrant. Although these migrants may be at risk of HIV/STD infection, little is known about the risk factors that affect them. To clarify this picture, a database search was conducted to identify studies of HIV/STD infection and/or risk factors among rural and urban-based Latino migrants in the six rapid growth states. This qualitative review examines ten studies that were conducted in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Five of the studies screened for HIV and/or syphilis infection and provide some information on risk factors; five studies describe risk factors only. Most of those studies that describe risk factors provide evidence that male Latino migrants in rural and urban settings of rapid growth states are vulnerable to HIV/STD infection through heterosexual contacts. However, many of the studies fail to provide sufficient information on other risk factors, and all but one of the studies that screened migrants for HIV or STD infection were conducted between 1988 and 1991. There is an urgent need for updated information on HIV/STD infection and the social-behavioral and situational risk factors that affect male Latino migrants in rapid growth states of the South.

The findings reported here were presented in part at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada (13–18 August 2006), abstract number TUPE0641, and the 19th Annual East Coast Migrant Stream Forum in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (19–21 October 2006). The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.