This research addresses the major global health problem of HIV prevention amongst male labor migrants in Central Asia. The study focuses on married men from Tajikistan working in Moscow and their risks for acquiring HIV through having sex with female sex workers and then transmitting the infection to their wives or female sexual partners. This five-year quantitative and qualitative study gathers data from migrants in Moscow, sending families in Tajikistan, female partners and sex workers in Moscow, and organizations involved with migrants in both locations. It develops contextual knowledge on: 1) the processes through which social, cultural, and psychological factors shape masculinity; 2) how masculine norms impact male migrants' HIV risk and preventive behaviors; and 3) how to enhance HIV prevention skills through addressing masculine norms in the real world contexts of migrants' lives and the organizations working with them. The goals are focused both on building formative knowledge and on developing innovative intervention strategies to inform HIV prevention. The specific aims of this study are: 1) To characterize how labor migration of married men under extreme conditions shapes masculine norms and schemas and HIV risk and preventive behaviors; 2) To characterize how women (wives, regular partners, sex workers) and their perceptions of HIV, femininity, and masculinity impact male migrants' HIV risk and preventive behaviors; 3) To assess the current and potential roles of the organizations involved with married male migrants in responding to HIV and in mitigating masculine norms impacting men's sexual behavior; 4) To build an empirically based model for preventing HIV amongst married male migrants that will help to develop programs and policies focused on heterosexual men and masculine norms. These aims will be accomplished by a survey of Tajik married male migrants in Moscow (n=400), ethnographic interviews and observations of the Tajik migrants in Moscow (n=40), their wives/regular female partners in Tajikistan (n=40) and Moscow (n=~30), sex workers in Moscow (n=30), and service providers (n=40) in organizations that are involved with migrants in Tajikistan and Moscow. This study's significance lies in addressing the major global health problems posed by male labor migrants' HIV risks through focusing on the roles of masculinity and migrancy in shaping HIV risk and preventive behaviors. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: This research addresses the major global health problem of HIV prevention amongst married male labor migrants in Central Asia and the public health risk for an AIDS epidemic in Tajikistan. It builds knowledge on the role of masculinity as a determinant of male migrants' sexual behavior and HIV risk. It develops innovative models and strategies for how masculine norms may be practically addressed that will inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of HIV preventive interventions for male labor migrants.
Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development