XVIII International AIDS Conference


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How gender roles influence HIV-STI risk among young Quebecers of Haitian origin

M. Beaulieu1,2, A. Adrien1,2, J.I. Lebounga Vouma1,2

1Universite de Montreal, Medecine Sociale et Preventive, Montreal, Canada, 2Direction de Santé Publique de Montréal, Vigie et Protection, Équipe ITSS, Montreal, Canada

Background: HIV prevalence among Montréal´s migrant populations is highest in Quebecers of Haitian origin. Youth from this community are particularly at risk for sexually transmitted infections. This study seeks to describe gender role expression among Quebecers of Haitian origin (YQHO) to identify its role in the adoption of HIV-STI risk behaviors.
Methods: From May to October 2008, in-depth interviews were conducted with 15 males and 15 females, aged 15 to 25 years, born in Haiti or having at least one parent born in Haiti. Participants were recruited for a 90 minutes interview by staff members from community groups doing community-level HIV prevention interventions for vulnerable youth in Montreal. Interviews were audio-recorded with permission of participants, transcribed verbatim, and coded. A content analysis was performed.
Results: We found that strongly polarized gender roles play an important role in risk taking in this community (30). YQHO saw men as “conquerers” (30) who brag about their sexual prowess (28). Men were characterised by their domination over women (20), being responsible for condom use (12) and valuing sexual risk taking (8). As for women, YQHO viewed them as submissive (20). While male are rewarded for being a conqueror, the woman must project a "serious" image (14), have no sexual desire (10) and serve and submit to men's sexual pleasure at the expense of their own (8).
Conclusions: The polarized construction of gender roles makes both boys and girls from Montréal´s Haitian community much more vulnerable to STI and HIV infections. Interventions that focus on this issue are rare. To reduce the vulnerability of YQHO, participative approaches should be considered in this community so that profound social changes can be fostered and power balance restored.

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