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Psychol Health Med. 2010 May;15(3):357-69. doi: 10.1080/13548501003653192.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and migrant "risk environments": the case of the Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrant community in the West Midlands of the UK.

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Department of Geography, Environment and Disaster Management, Coventry University, Coventry, UK.


The flow of migrants from high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence regions such as sub-Saharan Africa to western countries is changing the profile of HIV infection in host countries, with immigrants from these countries accounting for the majority of heterosexually acquired HIV infection. Few studies have been conducted on the sexual culture and practices of different migrant African communities living in western countries including the UK. Significant gaps therefore exist in our knowledge of the HIV/AIDS prevention needs of culturally diverse communities, particularly those from sub-Saharan Africa living in the UK. Based on empirical research undertaken in 2007, this article explores the knowledge and practices concerning HIV amongst the Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrant community living in the West Midlands of the UK. Using in-depth qualitative methods, the study investigated the HIV "risk environment" of this immigrant community. The research found that the group had little knowledge or understanding of the HIV epidemic in the UK and this resulted in serious misconceptions which led to risky sexual practice. Whilst the group had good knowledge and understanding of the disease and its transmission which had been acquired in their country of origin, this was not translated into practice. The perceived "low-risk environment" of HIV in the UK, as well as traditional male domination concerning sexual issues goes some way in explaining the low usage of the male condom amongst this group. Promoting the use of the female condom could empower women within this community to practice safe sex, which is acceptable to their male partners. The study identified a number of issues relevant to this immigrant group that could be easily tackled, empowering them to make informed decisions and take actions commensurate with the real, rather than perceived, HIV "risk environment" of their new home.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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