Journal of Community Health

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 127–136 | Cite as

Social Determinants of Sexual Behavior and Awareness of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Among Low-Income HIV+ or STI At-Risk Hispanic Residents Receiving Care at the U.S.–Mexico Border

  • Jennifer TablerEmail author
  • Laryssa Mykyta
  • Rachel M. Schmitz
  • Akiko Kamimura
  • Dora A. Martinez
  • Ruben D. Martinez
  • Paloma Flores
  • Karina Gonzalez
  • Alvaro Marquez
  • Gladys Marroquin
  • Andy Torres
Original Paper


U.S.–Mexico border communities are uniquely vulnerable to sexually transmitted infection (STI) transmission given the economic and social challenges these communities face. This study examines how marginalized statuses of U.S. border residents are associated with STI awareness and sexual behaviors. We surveyed low-income residents receiving STI testing and/or HIV/AIDS care in the lower Rio Grande Valley of southernmost Texas. Respondents aged 18+ took a self-administered survey available in English or Spanish in a clinic waiting room (N = 282). Approximately 52% of respondents reported being HIV+, and 32% of respondents reported having a prior STI other than HIV. Although most respondents had heard of HPV (72%), awareness of the HPV vaccine was low across all subgroups (28%), including women (< 35%), reflecting previous findings that border residents are less knowledgeable about the HPV vaccine. Almost half of respondents reported always using a condom (45%), which is higher than elsewhere in the U.S. Male and non-Hispanic respondents had higher estimated prevalence ratios (PR) of lifetime partners [PR 1.39 (95% confidence interval 1.43–3.68), PR 1.88 (1.04–3.41), respectively] and sexual partners met online [PR 3.73 (1.00–14.06), PR 19.98 (5.70–70.10), respectively]. Sexual minority, non-Hispanic, and male respondents had higher adjusted odds ratios (AOR) of utilizing the internet to find sexual partners than their peers [AOR 2.45 (1.60–3.87), AOR 1.52 (1.11–2.07), AOR 1.97 (1.20–3.24), respectively], placing them at greater STI-transmission risk. We found diversity in dimensions of STI awareness and sexual behaviors in our sample. Results can help tailor public health interventions to the unique STI risks of marginalized groups in border communities.


STI HIV/AIDS HPV Sexual behavior STI knowledge Border community Hispanic health 



We would like to thank the Valley AIDS Council for their partnership and support of this project, including Dr. Dora Alicia Martinez, M.D., Dr. Ruben Davila Martinez, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., Oscar Lopez, Wally Cantú, Diego Huerta, and Ruben Patlan. Drs Jennifer Tabler and Laryssa Mykyta were supported by funding from National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE Grant #1209210.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Tabler
    • 1
    Email author return OK on get
  • Laryssa Mykyta
    • 2
    • 3
  • Rachel M. Schmitz
    • 4
  • Akiko Kamimura
    • 5
  • Dora A. Martinez
    • 6
  • Ruben D. Martinez
    • 6
  • Paloma Flores
    • 3
  • Karina Gonzalez
    • 2
  • Alvaro Marquez
    • 3
  • Gladys Marroquin
    • 2
  • Andy Torres
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Criminal Justice and SociologyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA
  3. 3.Center for Survey Research and Policy AnalysisUniversity of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA
  4. 4.Department of SociologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  5. 5.Department of SociologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  6. 6.Valley AIDS Council [VAC]HarlingenUSA
  7. 7.Department of Psychological ScienceUniversity of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA

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