Online Program

Stressors and mental health challenges faced by immigrant Chinese massage parlor workers in HIV prevention

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Lois Takahashi, PhD, Department of Urban Planning, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Karin Elizabeth Tobin, PhD, Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Stacy To, APAIT Health Center, Los Angeles, CA
Helen Ma, APAIT Health Center, Los Angeles, CA
Samuel Ou, APAIT Health Center, Los Angeles, CA
Fiona Ka Wa Ao, MPH, EdD, Division of Health Sciences, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA
Jury Candelario, APAIT Health Center, Los Angeles, CA
Background: The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among Asian Americans in the US has grown substantially, especially for women. Between the years 2001-2004, the proportion of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among Asian American females aged 15-39 years increased more than other similar age racial/ethnic groups. Of particular concern, but little understood, is HIV risk among Asian immigrant women who are sex workers, especially the potential mediators and moderators for safer sex behavior (e.g., condom use). Method: Facilitator notes from twenty-two sessions of a culturally-tailored HIV prevention intervention program developed for Chinese monolingual massage parlor workers were coded and analyzed. Results: Study participants described mental health challenges including feelings of social isolation, shame and stress. There were multiple sources of stress which included: financial cost of immigration; need to financially support family with limited work options; inability to disclose to family and friends; harassment by customers. These sources of stress were also associated with the women choosing to enter the massage parlor/sex work industry (lack of available employment options) and not being able to exit the industry. Additional stresses were experienced when these women were arrested on suspicion of prostitution because of a lack of licensing (required by the state of California for masseuses). Implications: Addressing social isolation and mental health challenges of immigrant populations is a priority, however, more research is needed to clarify the mechanisms that influence HIV risk behaviors.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain mental health challenges faced by immigrant low-English proficient Chinese women who work in massage parlors. Discuss social isolation, shame, and stress as moderators for HIV risk reduction.

Keyword(s): HIV/AIDS, Asian and Pacific Islander Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered