DC Health held focus groups and conducted individual interviews with sexual and gender-minority Latino/a/x individuals who were HIV-negative or not aware of their status. A total of 42 people participated.
Not being fluent in English presented a barrier to obtaining resources, including those that contribute to health and wellness. That and lack of education influenced how participants access STD screening, treatment, and PrEP. There is also a perceived lack of accessible resources for Latino men who have sex with men who are not U.S. citizens. Participants stated there aren’t many places they can go for quality care if they don’t have documentation. Accessing government services may jeopardize the option to be in the country. Also playing a role: the perceived need to appeal to masculine culture, or “machismo.” Those not presenting as strongly masculine face ridicule from family and friends, and even face violence from others.
“Community” and family are major strengths, focused on the collective, living together, and sharing resources. Latino/a/x individuals support each other in finding employment and housing and accompany each other to medical appointments.
Efforts to reduce stigma in the Latino/a/x community need to be a priority — including more visibility about sexual health—and we need to involve families in conversations. Latino/a/x individuals like talking and being personable — they said it may be possible to use these characteristics in outreach efforts. Also suggested: Create community-led spaces to educate each other and invite providers. Include straight people in these conversations rather than focusing only on men who have sex with men.