Risk and Protective Experiences of Haitians in the Dominican Republic: HIV Prevention, Transmission and Treatment
By: Marlyn Delva
Published: 05/22/2013
Uploaded: 01/11/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2013 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: carribbean, HIV, Immigrants, Tourism

Description/Abstract: Objective: Limited research has examined the contextual and proximal factors of HIV risk among Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. There is a dearth of research related to the unique social, economic, and political factors associated with the Haitian immigrant experience in the DR and how such experiences shape HIV risk. This omission in the extant scientific literature and current HIV prevention efforts in the DR has resulted in an inadequate empirical understanding of how best to mount targeted HIV prevention efforts for the approximately 2 million Haitian immigrants residing in the Dominican Republic.

Method: Tourism areas served as the unique context under investigation due to the high concentration of Haitian migration to Dominican tourism areas for employment opportunities and elevated HIV prevalence rates within tourism areas. Participant observation and semi structured in-depth interviews (n=10) with randomly selected Haitian adult immigrants, including sex workers and active drug users were conducted.

Results: Results suggest that Haitian HIV risk in the DR is shaped by a number of well documented migratory factors similar to non-Haitian immigrants outside of the Dominican Republic, such as feelings of isolation and experiences with racism and discrimination. However, a number of distinct factors were identified most notably, anti-Haitian sentiment in the country and the inability to become legal residents or citizens due to adoption of recent laws resulting in barriers to health care access. Of particular interest, is the role of tourism related sex work establishments and alcohol venues in exacerbating HIV risk for Haitian formal and informal sex workers.

Conclusion: In the DR, HIV risk is increased for Haitians due to both unique and common factors associated with migration and involvement in the tourism economy. HIV prevention interventions designed to target Haitians in the DR should consider the role of migration to tourism areas and the unique social, economic and political status of Haitian immigrants within the Dominican Republic. Tourism area establishments are focal contexts by which to reach and intervene with Haitian migrants. Efforts to incorporate not only risk but also protective factors such as Haitian solidarity are likely to support successful implementation of targeted HIV risk reduction interventions.