NYU College of Nursing and Tulane Researchers Receive $275k NIH Grant to Study the Epidemiology of Drugs and Hiv Sex Risk Among Latino Migrants


After the Hurricane Katrina disaster in August, 2005, an influx of Latinos from Mexico and Central America, mostly men, undocumented and unaccompanied by their families, came seeking construction work. Post-disaster New Orleans is not only a new receiving area for Latino migrants, but an extremely high risk environment given its sex and drugs tourism which makes it a natural laboratory for the exploration of factors that promote drug use and HIV sexual risk among migrants.

Dr. Michele Shedlin, a medical anthropologist and professor at New York University College of Nursing and Dr. Patricia Kissenger, an epidemiologist and professor at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, recently received $275K from NIH for their study: The Epidemiology of Drugs and HIV Sex Risk Among Latino Migrants.

The overall goal of this research is to identify and explore factors affecting drug use and drug-related HIV sexual risk behaviors among Latino migrant workers who have migrated to a new receiving environment known for its sex and drugs tourism.

To achieve this, a multi-disciplinary team from Tulane and NYU will employ mixed methods and continue to follow the cohort for an additional 18 months (for 30 months of total follow-up). Simultaneous qualitative and quantitative methods will be used to refine instrumentation and the theoretical framework and to explore factors associated with drug use and drug-related HIV sexual risk.

This study will build on research conducted in 2007 by the Tulane research team. The team assembled a cohort of 125 newly arrived Latino migrant workers using respondent driven sampling, and followed them every 3 months to examine HIV risk.

Over nine months of follow-up, high rates of drug use ranging from 19 percent to 29 percent were discovered, along with 12 men who initiated drug use while in New Orleans. From these preliminary data we know the “what”, but we do not know the “why” and “how”, which are the focus of this exploratory research.

The researchers have also submitted an additional NIH Challenge Grant application in May 2009, which proposes an ethno-epidemiological approach to research on the influence of micro-environments on migrant health risks. This is the only documented cohort to describe the evolution of drug use and HIV risk among migrant workers in a U.S. post-disaster setting where there are essentially no prevention or treatment services available.


About NYU College of Nursing
The College of Nursing at the College of Dentistry is located on New York University’s historic Greenwich Village campus in New York City. The College of Nursing is one of the leading nursing programs in the United States. The College offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Master of Science and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development. For more information, visit www.nyu.edu/nursing.

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