258427 Lessons from the Chieh Mei Ching Yi/Sisterhood project: Working with Chinese massage parlor workers in Los Angeles

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Samuel Ou , APAIT Health Center, Los Angeles, CA
Helen Ma , APAIT Health Center, Los Angeles, CA
Stacy To , APAIT Health Center, Los Angeles, CA
Jury Candelario , APAIT Health Center, Los Angeles, CA
Karin Elizabeth Tobin, PhD , Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Lois Takahashi, PhD , Department of Urban Planning, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Chieh Mei Ching Yi (CMCY)/Sisterhood adapts the evidence-based intervention SISTA to serve Chinese immigrant women with limited English proficiency working as masseuses in Los Angeles. These women face severe mental stress arising from the stigma and isolation of their profession. Additional isolation stems from their own immigrant communities who see masseuses as prostitutes/lower class. Frequently, the women do not disclose their employment to family.

Methods: CMCY/Sisterhood seeks to empower these women while preventing HIV infection through improving (1) HIV knowledge, (2) self-esteem and gender/ethnic pride, (3) condom self-efficacy, and (4) sexual negotiation skills. Chinese cultural norms against discussing sex work are incorporated into the adaptation of SISTA to better collect information from participants. CMCY/Sisterhood uses Chinese euphemisms regarding sexual behavior to reduce discomfort and refer to sex work in the third person to avoid participant self-disclosure. Culturally specific discussions extend to coping and addressing HIV misconceptions.

Results: The program has enrolled 138 women thus far. Preliminary results have shown that the treatment group reported a greater increase in sexual negotiation skills whereas the control group showed no noticeable increase. By introducing participants to other Chinese masseuses and allowing them to connect during workshops as well as discuss topics that are highly stressful in a safe setting, participants overall have also reported reduced isolation.

Conclusions: Lessons learned include a deeper understanding of the severity of stigma and fear Chinese women face in association with sex work and HIV/AIDS along with developing methods that de-stigmatize HIV/AIDS and successfully engage this population.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify cultural strategies for dealing with stigma surrounding sex work and HIV/AIDS within the Chinese community. 2. Discuss lessons learned adapting SISTA for immigrant Chinese women.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Asian and Pacific Islander Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Worked as a Research Analyst for APAIT Health Center for three years. Was a part of the CHRP Co-infection as a New Paradigm of Health Inequities and Access to Care project; co-presented the poster at the APHA conference in 2009. Have been part of the Sisterhood project since 2010 assisting in program design and implementation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.