HIV Testing, Risk Behaviors, and Fear: A Comparison of Documented and Undocumented Latino Immigrants

Jane J. Lee, Gary Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Latino immigrants in the United States are at elevated risk for HIV infection and delayed HIV diagnosis. Immigration documentation status and its contribution to fears are important barriers to accessing health services including HIV testing. A currently changing political climate within the United States may have increased the complexity of the intersection of documentation status and health care access. This study used an anonymous survey conducted in March and April 2017 in New York City to compare: sociodemographic characteristics, HIV testing behaviors, HIV risk behaviors, and perceptions of fear around HIV testing among documented and undocumented Latino immigrants (N = 301). We found that undocumented immigrants reported lower levels of education, income, and health insurance than did documented immigrants. However, groups did not differ in having tested for HIV in the last 12 months, in future intentions to test for HIV, or in emotional/cognitive perceptions of fear around HIV testing. Undocumented immigrants reported lower rates of having ever tested for HIV in their lifetime (68.6%) than documented immigrants (80.5%) (p = 0.027). In conclusion, we found that despite sociodemographic challenges, undocumented immigrants had similar HIV testing behaviors as their documented counterparts in our study community. Further understanding of the mitigating factors that resulted in seemingly equal access to HIV testing in this community for undocumented immigrants is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-346
Number of pages11
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019


  • Fear
  • HIV risk behaviors
  • HIV testing
  • Immigrants
  • Latino

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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