Purpose: Little is known about the health status of rural immigrant Latino men who have sex with men (MSM). These MSM comprise a subpopulation that tends to remain “hidden” from both researchers and practitioners. This study was designed to estimate the prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use, and sexual risk behaviors of Latino MSM living in rural North Carolina.
Methods: A community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership used respondent-driven sampling (RDS) to identify, recruit, and enroll Latino MSM to participate in an interviewer-administered behavioral assessment. RDS-weighted prevalence of risk behaviors was estimated using the RDS Analysis Tool. Data collection occurred in 2008.
Results: A total of 190 Latino MSM was reached; the average age was 25.5 years and nearly 80% reported being from Mexico. Prevalence estimates of smoking everyday and past 30-day heavy episodic drinking were 6.5% and 35.0%, respectively. Prevalence estimates of past 12-month marijuana and cocaine use were 56.0% and 27.1%, respectively. Past 3-month prevalence estimates of sex with at least one woman, multiple male partners, and inconsistent condom use were 21.2%, 88.9%, and 54.1%, respectively.
Conclusions: Respondents had low rates of tobacco use and club drug use, and high rates of sexual risk behaviors. Although this study represents an initial step in documenting the health risk behaviors of immigrant Latino MSM who are part of a new trend in Latino immigration to the southeastern United States, a need exists for further research, including longitudinal studies to understand the trajectory of risk behavior among immigrant Latino MSM.