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Stigma, Social Inequality, and HIV Risk Disclosure among Dominican Male Sex Workers

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Padilla, Mark, Daniel Castellanos, Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, Armando Matiz Reyes, Leonardo E. Sánchez Marte, and Martha Arredondo Soriano. 2008. "Stigma, Social Inequality, and HIV Risk Disclosure among Dominican Male Sex Workers." Social Science & Medicine, 67(3): 380-388.

Abstract: Some quantitative behavioral studies in the U.S. have concluded that bisexually-behaving Latino men are less likely than white men to disclose to their female partners that they have engaged in same-sex risk behavior and / or are HIV-positive, presumably exposing female partners to elevated risk for HIV infection. Nevertheless, very little theoretical or empirical research has been conducted to understand the social factors that promote or inhibit sexual risk disclosure among Latino men who have sex with men (MSM), and much of the existing literature has neglected to contextualize disclosure patterns within broader experiences of stigma and social inequality. This paper examines decisions about disclosure of sex work, same-sex behavior, and sexual risk for HIV among male sex workers in two cities in the Dominican Republic. Data derive from long-term ethnography and qualitative in-depth interviews with 72 male sex workers, which were used to analyze the relationships among experiences of stigma, social inequality, and patterns of sexual risk disclosure. Thematic analysis of interviews and ethnographic evidence revealed a wide range of stigma management techniques utilized by sex workers to minimize the effects of marginality due to their engagement in homosexuality and sex work. These techniques imposed severe constraints on men’s sexual risk disclosure, and potentially elevated their own and their female partners’ vulnerability to HIV infection. Based on the study’s findings, the authors conclude that future studies of sexual risk disclosure among ethnic minority MSM should avoid analyzing disclosure as a decontextualized variable, and should seek to examine sexual risk communication as a dynamic social process constrained by hierarchical systems of power and inequality.

DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.03.014 (Full Text)

Countries of focus: Dominican Republic, United States of America.

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