NIH Funds $569,028 Study on How ‘Perceived Immigration Laws’ Affect Hispanic Immigrants’ ‘HIV Health Behavior’

By Melanie Arter | July 27, 2018 | 10:15 AM EDT

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(CNSNews.com) – The National Institutes of Health awarded $569,028 in taxpayer funding to the Medical College of Wisconsin to study how the country’s “perceived immigration laws” impact the “HIV health behavior” of Hispanic immigrants.

“Hispanic immigrants bear a disproportionate burden of HIV infection in the US. Along with disproportionate rates of HIV infection, Hispanic immigrants are affected by three important drivers of the US HIV epidemic: disordered alcohol and drug use, intimate partner violence, and reduced rates of HIV testing. Importantly, each of these drivers of HIV infection is or has been legally regulated,” the grant description stated.

The grant description also said immigrants may be deterred from seeking health care services because of their concerns about the bounds of immigration authority.

It pointed to a preliminary study’s findings that “suggest that immigration-related laws, Hispanic immigrants' beliefs about the immigration ramifications of engaging in HIV health-seeking behaviors, and immigrants' concerns about the bounds of immigration authority may deter or prevent them from utilizing important health care services and resources.”

“To our knowledge there has never been a direct empirical study of the influence of immigration-related laws and legal concerns on Hispanic immigrants' sensitive HIV-related health-seeking behaviors. The proposed study will address this knowledge gap,” it stated.

The study will look at four metropolitan areas inside the United States “with diverse immigration law and enforcement environments” to “explore immigrants' experiences with legal barriers and to identify the immigration-related concerns, beliefs, and misconceptions that influence their service utilization.”

Researchers will then “develop, refine, and psychometrically evaluate a novel measure of immigration-related concerns about health-seeking behaviors” using the information gained.

“Identifying the nature of Hispanic immigrants' concerns about seeking help for key drivers of HIV infection and the barriers erected by immigration laws and policies will provide important evidence for intervention––at individual-, community-, and structural-levels––to reduce disproportionate rates of HIV infection among Hispanic immigrants and to shape laws and policies that are consistent with our National HIV Prevention Strategy,” the grant description stated.

The project began on Sept. 27, 2016 and ends on May 31, 2021. The budget start date is listed as June 1, 2018 and ends on May 31, 2019.

Requests for comment from the grant’s project leader, Carol Galletly, were not responded to by the time this article was published.

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