Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Volume 41, Number 1, March 2009

They "Miss More Than Anything Their Normal Life Back Home": Masculinity and Extramarital Sex Among Mexican Migrants in Atlanta

By Jennifer S. Hirsch, Miguel Muñoz-Laboy, Christina M. Nyhus, Kathryn M. Yount, José A. Bauermeister

CONTEXT: Gender has been recognized as a significant influence on sexual health behaviors. Labor migration presents an important context of vulnerability for sexual health. To understand how the context of migration affects risk-related practices, both cultural and social aspects of gender need to be explored.

METHODS: In the quantitative part of a mixed-methods study conducted in 1999 in Atlanta, 187 Mexican migrant men were asked about their demographic characteristics; sexual history; migration motivations; substance use; social support; leisure-time activities; and ideas about masculinity, sexuality and marriage. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to test the association between these domains and men's number of partners since their arrival in Atlanta.

RESULTS: Number of partners was positively associated with owning a home in Mexico; number of trips back to Mexico; social network size; having had a sex worker as a partner; and going out dancing and to strip clubs on weekends (coefficients, 0.3–4.1). It was negatively associated with age, education, contact with social network members and feeling that sex is tied to emotional intimacy (–0.4 to –1.0).

CONCLUSIONS: Programs must acknowledge and target migrant men's social networks and the spaces in which they may encounter risky sexual situations. Multilevel strategies, such as the development of more health-enhancing community spaces and the promotion of safer sexual practices should form part of comprehensive efforts to reduce sexual risk among migrant men.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009, 41(1):23-32

DOI: 10.1111/j.1931-2393.2009.4112309.x




Jennifer S. Hirsch is associate professor, and Miguel Muñoz- Laboy is assistant professor, both in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, NY. Christina M. Nyhus is doctoral candidate, Program in International Nutrition, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Kathryn M. Yount is associate professor, Hubert Department of Global Health and Department of Sociology, Emory University, Atlanta. José A. Bauermeister is assistant research professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor.