Initial acculturation and HIV risk among new hispanic immigrants

Michele G. Shedlin, Carlos Ulises Decena, Denise Oliver-Velez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Research on the initial stage of acculturation of new immigrants is crucial for identifying AIDS prevention policies and priorities for this vulnerable population. Methods: This study employed an exploratory approach and qualitative data collection methods to identify and describe social and behavioral factors influencing risk for HIV infection among recent Hispanic immigrants (<3 years in the United States). Immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Mexico were interviewed in urban, suburban and semirural settings in the New York Metropolitan Area. Data were collected through ethnographic fieldwork, in-depth interviews (N=51), focus groups (N-11; total number of participants=86) and individual interviews with health and social service providers (N=26). Results: Initial stages of acculturation for immigrants reflect both retention and change in attitudes and behaviors involving their mental health, gender role norms, social and sexual behavior, and alcohol and other drug use. Current living environments may introduce conditions affecting HIV risk and prevention, while sustained connections to countries of origin may support retention of attitudes and behaviors with positive and negative risk implications. Conclusions: Specific epidemiological, environmental, economic, social and psychosocial factors are identified that provide the context for risk and prevention. The challenges and opportunities faced by these new communities must be distinguished from those of more acculturated immigrant populations if culturally appropriate interventions are to be developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32S-37S
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number7 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Acculturation
  • Hispanic communities
  • Immigrant health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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