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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