Deportation and HIV Vulnerability among Clients of Female Sex Workers in Tijuana

Shira Goldenberg, Steffanie A. Strathdee, Manuel Gallardo and Thomas L. Patterson, « “People Here Are Alone, Using Drugs, Selling their Body”: Deportation and HIV Vulnerability among Clients of Female Sex Workers in Tijuana », Field Actions Science Reports [Online], Special Issue 2 | 2010


In many settings, migrants are at disproportionately high risk of HIV. The Tijuana-San Diego border is the world’s busiest international land crossing. Deportations in San Diego County have increased by 48% since 2002; many deportees are delivered to deportation stations in Tijuana, Mexico, where associations between HIV vulnerability and deportation have been documented. Female sex workers (FSWs) and their clients are among the populations at highest risk of HIV in Tijuana. Our objective was to explore the relationship between deportation and HIV vulnerability from the perspectives of deported clients of FSWs in Tijuana. Using in-depth interviews conducted in Tijuana’s red light district in 2008 with 20 male clients of FSWs who had ever been deported from the United States, we explored the relationship between the consequences of deportation and HIV vulnerability. Clients perceived deportation as resulting in social isolation and economic dislocation, which were linked to HIV through substance use and unprotected sex with FSWs. These unintended consequences of immigration policy (social dislocation and economic marginalization) warrant corresponding interventions that address social, economic, and political dimensions of vulnerability. Recommended interventions include (1) social and economic support for deportees in border communities; (2) HIV testing, information, and condom provision to deportees; (3) peer education and condom promotion by jaladores (middlemen); and (4) safer sex interventions that address psychosocial factors and substance use among deportees. We argue that the health impacts of migration depend on the context of migration, with deportation posing a form of involuntary migration that exacerbates HIV vulnerability.

Full text available here.

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