'Love and trust, you can be blinded': HIV risk within relationships among Latina women in Miami, Florida

Ethn Health. 2017 Oct;22(5):510-527. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2016.1244737. Epub 2016 Oct 21.


Objectives: Latina women are disproportionately affected by HIV in the US, and account for 30% of all HIV infections in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The main risk for Latina women is heterosexual contact. Little is known about the relational and cultural factors that may impact women's HIV risk perception. This study aims to describe Latina women's perception of their HIV risk within a relational, cultural, and linguistic context.

Design: Eight focus groups of Latina women (n = 28), four English speaking groups and four Spanish speaking groups, were conducted between December 2013 and May 2014. Women were recruited from a diversion program for criminal justice clients and by word of mouth. Eligibility criteria included the following: self-identify as Hispanic/Latino, 18-49 years of age, and self-identify as heterosexual. A two-level open coding analytic approach was conducted to identify themes across groups.

Results: Most participants were foreign-born (61%) and represented the following countries: Cuba (47%), Honduras (17.5%), Mexico (12%), as well as Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Venezuela (15%). Participant ages ranged between 18 and 49, with a mean age of 32 years. Relationship factors were important in perceiving HIV risk including male infidelity, women's trust in their male partners, relationship type, and getting caught up in the heat of the moment. For women in the English speaking groups, drug use and trading sex for drugs were also reasons cited for putting them at risk for HIV. English speaking women also reported that women should take more responsibility regarding condom use.

Conclusion: Findings emphasize the importance of taking relational and cultural context into account when developing HIV prevention programs for Latina women. Interventions targeting English speaking Latina women should focus on women being more proactive in their sexual health; interventions focused on Spanish speaking women might target their prevention messages to either men or couples.

Keywords: HIV; Hispanic; condom; gender roles; machismo; mariansimo; relationship; women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Partners
  • Trust*