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Pilot Ethnographic Study of Married Male Migrants

This pilot study aimed to preliminarily characterize married male migrants’ HIV/AIDS risk and protective knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as, key contextual factors that would likely impede or facilitate a preventive intervention (Weine et al, 2007). This was a collaborative multi-sited ethnography in Moscow that included minimally structured interviews with 16 subjects and focus groups with a total of 14 subjects. All invited subjects agreed to participate. The results suggested that many Tajik male migrant workers in Moscow are having unprotected sex with commercial sex workers. Although some of the migrants have basic knowledge about HIV, the migrants’ ability to protect themselves from acquiring HIV is compromised by harsh living and working conditions as a consequence of being unprotected by law in Russia. The migrant workers’ experience of being unprotected appears to diminish their self-efficacy in ways that would likely also impede efforts at HIV prevention. For instance, it appears to interfere in their assessment of HIV risk. Tajik male migrant workers in Moscow also have important sources of religious, community, and family support that may facilitate targeted HIV prevention interventions. One example is the value of being the provider and protector of the family. To respond to HIV/AIDS risks amongst Tajik male migrant workers in Moscow, preventive interventions are needed that take into account their harsh living and working conditions and that mobilize existing sources of religious, community, and family support. Further study is needed to more comprehensively characterize HIV/AIDS risk and protective knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as, key contextual factors that would likely impede or facilitate a preventive intervention. These results call for further systematic study of the relationships between masculine norms and HIV risk and preventive behavior. The issues of polygamy, socio-economic independence and risk awareness should also be points of focus. 

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