HIV-positive Battered Latina Women

Principal Investigator: Claudia Moreno, Ph.D.(CUSSW)

In collaboration with: Nabila El-Bassel, Ph.D.(CUSSW; Social Intervention Group)

Funding: Center for the Study of Social Work Practice

This pilot study will explore the social and cultural factors related to Latina HIV-positive battered women. For battered Latina women, a complex web of personal, cultural, and practical issues can make it difficult and even dangerous to protect themselves from HIV. Latina women are at risk for sustaining abuse longer and seeking help less than other groups because of religious and cultural values, economic dependency, low education, employment and job status, and spouse alcohol consumption.

This study seeks to develop a cultural and social profile of HIV positive Latina women who report partner abuse, including information on condom usage, safe sex practices, types of abuse experienced, and whether disclosure of HIV or STD put the women at risk for abuse. The study will include 20 HIV positive Latina women (between 18-45 years of age and referred by the Victims Services program) with a history of domestic abuse. Subjects will participate in two focus groups.

Using qualitative research methods to gather information about this sensitive topic has been regarded as effective because participants are more likely to convey intimate experiences face-to-face than in an anonymous questionnaire. Questions related to sexual behavior and emotional, physical and sexual abuse must be handled very sensitively in order to acquire accurate information and help the participant to maintain self-esteem and respect from the interviewer, especially when answers may violate cultural norms. Data will be collected using an audio-tape recorder for focus groups and individual interviews. In-depth interviews will be conducted with key participants to obtain precise and in-depth information. The following issues will be covered in the interviews and focus groups: decisions about leaving or staying in the relationship, accessibility or limitation of resources such as social and family supports, immigration status, language proficiency, acculturation, resources, services and employment.

The data collected will help to develop a cross-sectional survey that will be used for a larger quantitative research project. Data will also be used to design interventions for Latina women with HIV in abusive relationships.