Research on Latino Gay/Bisexual Men

Research Findings About Gay/Bisexual Latino men

For clearly established biological reasons, and confirmed by clear epidemiological findings, anal intercourse without condoms (i.e. “unprotected”) is recognized as one of the most efficient routes for the transmission of HIV. Unfortunatley, behavioral studies done to date converge on the finding that Latino gay/bisexual men have had enormous difficulties adjusting to condom use and adopting less risky forms of sexual behavior. In fact, five studies that have measured rates of unprotected anal intercourse in gay/bisexual men show that Latinos had the highest rates of unprotected anal intercourse when compared to samples of non-Latino Whites, African-Americans, or men from other minority groups.

Of special concern is that risk behavior occurs in the presence of substantial knowledge about modes of HIV transmission and means of prevention, as well as in the presence of relatively strong intentions to practice safer sex.

According to qualitative research conducted by Dr. Rafael M. Diaz in San Francisco’s Mission district, Latino gay/bisexual men are having serious difficulties in the enactment of safer sex intentions. Well-aware of the risks involved, and aware of the discrepancy between their HIV knowledge, intentions, and behavior, Latino gay men helplessly confess not understanding why this is the case. The situation is further complicated by the frequent use of drugs/alcohol during sex, increased anonymous encounters in public sex environments, and situations of financial dependence leading to prostitution and/or sexual relations with men of unequal power and status.

Diaz’s research suggest that sexual self-regulation among Latino gay men is jeopardized by a host of complex sociocultural factors — such as machismo, homophobia, sexual silence, family disruption, poverty and racism — that contribute to

  • Decreased self-esteem;
  • Perceptions of low sexual control;
  • A sense of social isolation; and
  • Fatalism regarding the inevitability of HIV infection.

The program “Hermanos de Luna y Sol” was designed in collaboration with Dr. Diaz as a model intervention to impact and modify these four important predictors of risky sexual behavior.

See also the Fact Sheet “What Are Latinos’ HIV Prevention Needs?” and What are the HIV prevention needs of Mexican immigrants in the US?

Last modified: February 7, 2011