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Padilla finds sex tourism may be fueling Caribbean HIV

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"Sex tourists may be fueling Caribbean HIV" - UPI. 10/12/2007.

Sex tourists may be fueling Caribbean HIV ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. and European male sex tourists may be fueling an HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean, says a University of Michigan School of Public Health expert.

The Caribbean is second only to sub-Saharan Africa in HIV/AIDS cases and sexual contact between Caribbean male sex workers and male tourists may be a much larger contributor to the HIV/AIDS epidemic there than previously thought, researcher Mark Padilla said.

Padilla's book "Caribbean Pleasure Industry: Tourism, Sexuality, and HIV/AIDS in the Dominican Republic," is a study of 298 male sex workers in the Caribbean and how their bisexual behavior impacts the spread of HIV.

"Many men are unemployed from rural areas, and they immigrate to tourism areas," Padilla said in a statement "Very few identify themselves as sex workers, and most have other income from tourism. Because of social stigma, these men often do not communicate with female partners about their involvement in sex work," which means the risk for HIV may be high among women as well.

In Latin American culture, homosexuality is so stigmatized that men who engage in homosexual sex for money cannot speak out without becoming social pariahs. Many are married, but do not tell their wives about the prostitution or homosexual behavior and many do not use condoms consistently, especially with female partners, Padilla found.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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