HIV risk and barriers to care for African-born immigrant women: A sociocultural outlook

Olihe N. Okoro, Shanasha O. Whitson

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23 Scopus citations


Background: Data from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report 2015 show that African-born (AB) women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. In 2015, these women accounted for more than half (54%) of all new cases of HIV reported among females in Minnesota and 34% of all known female cases in the state. This study was a needs assessment for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in vulnerable subgroups within the AB population and adequacy of HIV care for AB persons. The primary objective of this study was to gain an insight into the strategies that will limit the spread of HIV infection and enhance HIV care among AB immigrants. Methods: Community advocates, community-based organizations (CBOs), clinicians, and other HIV-related service providers were invited to participate in a focus group, structured interview or complete an assessment tool using the same questionnaire about HIV and PrEP among AB persons. A thematic analysis was then conducted on the open-ended questions addressing perceived barriers. Results: Findings suggest the following gender-specific sociocultural factors that drive HIV transmission and constitute barriers to HIV treatment for AB women: domestic/intimate partner violence, gender-biased stigma, discriminatory cultural beliefs and normative values/ expectations, unprotected sex with husbands who have sex with other men, gender discordance in health care (preference for female provider), and sexual/reproductive health illiteracy. Recommendation: Based on recommendations, a community-based sexual and reproductive health education is being initiated with a curriculum that will be 1) broad (inclusive but not limited to HIV), 2) culturally sensitive/responsive, and 3) at appropriate literacy level for all women, including those who have little or no formal education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-429
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
StatePublished - Jun 8 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Okoro and Whitson.


  • African-born women
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Reproductive health


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