Cultural Considerations for Addressing Risk for STIs

By Vivian Cortés, MPH


By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

1. Identify sexual stereotypes that may be associated with various populations.

2. Explain how stereotypes may be related to behaviors that put various populations at risk for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS.

3. Identify ways to address risk within various cultural populations.


The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a threat to everyone; however there are certain populations who appear to be at increased risk for infection with HIV. Of all racial and ethnic groups, HIV/AIDS has hit African-Americans the hardest. HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death for African-Americans and other blacks. Also, the rate of new AIDS diagnoses among Latino men is three times that of white men, and the rate among Latina women is five times that of white women. High-risk heterosexual contact continues to be a risk factor for infection with HIV among populations of color, especially among Latinas and African-American women. Research shows that the majority of HIV cases among Latinas continues to be in women exposed to the virus through heterosexual intercourse. Knowledge of safer sex methods and awareness of one’s risk for HIV is necessary; however these do not always translate into safer sex behavior. Simply providing HIV/AIDS prevention information is insufficient if it fails to recognize the cultural context within which women and men make their decisions. This lesson helps participants identify and become aware of possible stereotypes and/or beliefs that may be associated with one’s risk for sexually transmitted infections.

Note: This lesson needs to be delivered by a culturally competent facilitator who can lead the group in sensitive, respectful discussion. Participants may be more receptive to the lesson if it is presented by someone who is of the same racial, ethnic or cultural background as their own.

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