Ethnicity and HIV Risk in Guatemala

By Tory M. Taylor, John Hembling, and Jane T. Bertrand

Mayans and other indigenous groups comprise a significant portion of the population in Guatemala, yet they face many disadvantages to health and wellbeing. To learn more about the HIV risks of indigenous groups in Guatemala, researchers with MEASURE Evaluation analyzed data collected from 16,215 women aged 15-49 and 6,822 men aged 15-59 who participated in the 2008-2009 Encuesta Nacional de Salud Materno Infantil (ENSMI, the National Survey on Maternal-Child Health). The investigation focused on the relationships between ethnicity and behavioral variables associated with HIV risk. Results of the analysis show low reported levels of risky sexual behavior among indigenous men and women compared to other respondents. Controlling for major demographic factors, however, indigenous peoples in Guatemala do not appear to be at high HIV risk, but do have lower odds of HIV testing and HIV knowledge compared to non-indigenous Guatemalans. HIV programs in Guatemala may want to consider the implications of these findings in future efforts. In late 2012, AIDSTAR-One worked with the Comisión Presidencial contra la Discriminación y el Racismo contra los Pueblos Indigenas en Guatemala (CODISRA, the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism against the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala) to hold a series of meetings with key stakeholders throughout Guatemala to disseminate the study and begin to translate the findings into action.

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