NIH Extends Study of 'Masculine' Tajik Migrant Workers’ Risk Of Getting HIV From Russian Prostitutes

August 21, 2013 - 11:53 AM


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Russian police searching a suspected illegal alien at Moscow street market on Aug. 7, 2013. (AP)

( –  A four-year, $2.2 million study by University of Illinois researchers on the risks of contracting HIV by "masculine" married male migrant laborers from Tajikistan who have sex with female prostitutes in Moscow has been extended to 2014, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is funding the research.

CNSNews first reported on the study, entitled “Migrancy, Masculinity, and Preventing HIV in Tajik Male Migrant Workers," in 2010. The four-year study was initially scheduled to end in 2012, but will continue until next year.

Lead researcher Stevan Merrill Weine was awarded $438,946 last year and a total of $2,281,396 since the study began in 2008. But so far, Weine and his research team have  published only one journal article, entitled “Female migrant sex workers in Moscow: gender and power factors and HIV risk,” which appeared earlier this year in Women & Health.

“The study focuses on married men from Tajikistan working in Moscow and their risks for acquiring HIV through having sex with female sex workers and then transmitting the infection to their wives or female sexual partners,” according to the grant abstract.

For the past five years, researchers have been using “ethnographic interviews and observations of the Tajik migrants in Moscow” to shed light on the “extreme conditions” that shape “masculine norms” for married migrant workers.

According to the abstract, Weine and his team gather “data from migrants in Moscow, sending families in Tajikistan, female partners and sex workers in Moscow, and organizations involved with migrants in both locations” in order to develop “contextual knowledge” regarding the way “social, cultural and psychological factors shape masculinity.”

Researchers are also looking at “how masculine norms impact male migrants’ HIV risk and preventive behaviors,” and looking into HIV prevention methods that address “masculine norms in the real world contexts of migrants’ lives.”

The project also addresses women’s “perceptions of HIV, femininity, and masculinity,” the “current and potential roles of the organizations involved with married male migrants in responding to HIV and in mitigating masculine norms impacting men’s sexual behavior,” and possible “intervention strategies” geared toward heterosexual men.

NIH program official Susan Newcomer did not respond to requests from CNSNews for further information about how this $2 million-plus study will benefit American taxpayers.