Farm workers living in the United States (US) carry a burden of HIV infection that is 10 times that of the general population. Migrant farm workers (MFW) who come from Mexico to the U live in rural areas, are marginalized from mainstream society, are commonly undocumented, and often lack access to necessary health and prevention services. Females MFW in particular comprise a unique group that experience high risk of HIV infection. This sexual risk is related to the threat of intimate partner violence, low social support, low HIV knowledge, high-risk partners, and in particular, cultural norms that may influence relationship power and the ability to negotiate for protective sex in the face of infidelty. HIV risk is closely tied to interpersonal power dynamics and patriarchal ideologies that can influence relationships. Moreover, migration to a new country is a life-changing event that can alter family structure and bring about changes in cultural values and beliefs, which could be harmful or protective in relation to sexual risk. Although a number of studies have investigated HIV risk among male MFW, very little research has approached the topic of sexual health for female MFW. Therefore, understanding the perceived sexual risks and strategies used to maintain sexual health by female MFW who were born in Mexico will assist in understanding what personal factors (intrinsic strengths) and which resources (physical resources, material resources, financial resources, supportive resources, relational resources, etc.) help recent migrants to maintain sexual health. Moreover, this research will form a foundation for planning population-specific and culture-appropriate interventions for female MFW.
The specific aims of this study are: 1) To describe the perceptions and experiences of female MFW of Mexican descent in relation to their health risks: 2) To Identify the beliefs/values about culture, migration, gender roles, and power that are related to sexual health risks for female MFW of Mexican Descent: 3) To describe what resources and self-protective factors female MFW of Mexican descent use to mitigate these perceived risks: and 4) To generate a theoretical framework that is grounded in the voices and narratives of female MFW of Mexican descent regarding their experiences and perspectives on sexual health, power relations, and self-protective strategies.

Public Health Relevance

Migrant farm-workers in the United States carry a burden of HIV infection that is 10 times that of the general population, and farm-worker women are particularly at risk for HIV in relation to interpersonal power dynamics, gendered social norms, and cultural beliefs about sexual health and nursing knowledge regarding appropriate interventions to increase the health and well being of this group. This qualitative study will focs on examining perceptions of risk and self-protective strategies and resources used by farm-workers women to maintain sexual health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
National Institute of Nursing Research Initial Review Group (NRRC)
Program Officer
Banks, David
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Los Angeles
Schools of Nursing
Los Angeles
United States
Zip Code