Program Increases Safe Sex Practices in Latina Women

HIV is spreading five times faster in Latina women than nonminority women in the United States. Latinos represent nearly 15% of the total American population, and that percentage increases each year. Because of the cultural values that Latina women hold, they are at a much higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than other American women. Latina women are encouraged to be sexually passive, nonconfrontational, and submissive to their husbands. These behaviors leave Latina women with very little control over their sexual encounters and make them highly vulnerable to STDs. In an effort to increase safe sexual practices, Gina M. Wingood of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at Emory University in Atlanta took an existing HIV intervention program aimed at African-American women and redesigned it to meet the cultural and social needs of Latina women.

AMIGAS (Amigas, Mujeres Latinas, Informíandonos, Guiíandonos, y Apoyíandonos contra el SIDA [friends, Latina women, informing each other, guiding each other, and supporting each other against AIDS]), was presented in four sessions to 252 Latina women in Miami, Florida. Throughout the program, and over the 6 months that followed, their condom use and safe sexual practices were compared to those of women assigned to a single-session intervention. Wingood discovered that the AMIGAS women were almost five times more likely to use condoms in the previous 3 months than the control group. Additionally, they were more than half as likely as the control group to have any sexual encounters without protection. Additionally, the AMIGAS women reported feeling more educated about HIV and other STDs, felt more empowered when requesting condom use from their partners, and increased their sense of authority and influence within their relationships, all as a result of participating in the program. Overall, the results demonstrate the powerful effect that culturally sensitive educational programs can have at decreasing HIV risk in minorities. Wingood added, “Future researchers should consider the value of engaging health departments and other community agencies in conceptualizing, adapting, implementing, and evaluating HIV risk reduction interventions.”

Wingood, G. M., DiClemente, R. J., Villamizar, K., Er, D. L., DeVarona, M., Taveras, J., Painter, T. M., Lang, D. L., Hardin, J. W., Ullah, E., Stallworth, J., Purcell, D. W., Jean, R. Efficacy of a Health Educator-Delivered HIV Prevention Intervention for Latina Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Public Health 101.12 (2011): 2245-252. Print.

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  • Johnna


    February 24th, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Gosh, this is not just about changing one behavior, but about changing the way that an entire culture views sexual practices. That’s an awfully big one to tackle.

  • emma steele

    emma steele

    February 25th, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    Empowering these women to stand up for themselves is what really needs to be done!

  • Caron


    February 26th, 2012 at 4:36 AM

    How about talking to latina girls, or any girs for that matter, in the school system? Do you think that getting teachers involved from a young age in these girls lives could help to change the overall mindset of this young community? I know that there is always going to be a lot of pressure to make your family proud but sometimes these girls will look up to school and community leaders as well and will not want to disappoint them with their behavior. If the school districts where they are allows this kind of frank conversation that is needed then it is certainly worth taking a shot.

  • JUAN


    February 27th, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Just the simple fact that HIV is so prevalent in the Latin culture ought to be enough to make the community as a whole sit up and take notice but it has never been enough. Especially when you consider that it is a lot of young women who are being affected by this and women are still held in such low regard in the Latin world. We undervalue our girls and our women and now it is showing up in our health.

  • shelton


    February 28th, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    no doubt an at-risk group needs more attention and support.and the risk factor is just too high,so it needs immediate work of the AIDS menace needs to be quelled.condom usage is a good step but is not enough by any means.overall education about safe sex and other earthy practices need to be encouraged too.

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