They "miss more than anything their normal life back home": masculinity and extramarital sex among Mexican migrants in Atlanta

Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2009 Mar;41(1):23-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1931-2393.2009.4112309.x.


Context: Gender has been recognized as a significant influence on sexual health behaviors. Labor migration presents an important context of vulnerability for sexual health. To understand how the context of migration affects risk-related practices, both cultural and social aspects of gender need to be explored.

Methods: In the quantitative part of a mixed-methods study conducted in 1999 in Atlanta, 187 Mexican migrant men were asked about their demographic characteristics; sexual history; migration motivations; substance use; social support; leisure-time activities; and ideas about masculinity, sexuality and marriage. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to test the association between these domains and men's number of partners since their arrival in Atlanta.

Results: Number of partners was positively associated with owning a home in Mexico; number of trips back to Mexico; social network size; having had a sex worker as a partner; and going out dancing and to strip clubs on weekends (coefficients, 0.3-4.1). It was negatively associated with age, education, contact with social network members and feeling that sex is tied to emotional intimacy (-0.4 to -1.0).

Conclusions: Programs must acknowledge and target migrant men's social networks and the spaces in which they may encounter risky sexual situations. Multilevel strategies, such as the development of more health-enhancing community spaces and the promotion of safer sexual practices should form part of comprehensive efforts to reduce sexual risk among migrant men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Extramarital Relations / ethnology*
  • Georgia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Marriage / ethnology*
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Safe Sex / ethnology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Social Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health
  • Young Adult