Immigration legal services as a structural HIV intervention for Latinx sexual and gender minorities

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Lack of legal immigration status is associated with poor HIV-related outcomes for immigrant Latinx sexual and gender minorities (LSGM). LSGM often meet eligibility criteria for legal immigration relief. A Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) may thus be strategic to improve their health. We know little about the challenges LSGM face during the immigration legal process. We conducted in-depth interviews with six key informants and sixteen LSGM who recently applied for immigration legal relief. We coded and analyzed the data for emergent themes. Challenges to instituting an MLP for LSGM included lack of specialized training on working with SGM for immigration attorneys, and for clients: knowledge about legal deadlines, lack of housing and family support, and re-traumatizing experiences. Clients' outcomes were positive when attorneys and mental health providers collaborated. For LSGM, the benefits of immigration relief included reduced HIV risk. An MLP that addresses the surmountable challenges could improve HIV-related outcomes among LSGM.

Yamanis TJ, Zea MC, Ramé Montiel AK, Barker SL, Díaz-Ramirez MJ, Page KR, Martinez O, Rathod J. Immigration legal services as a structural HIV intervention for Latinx sexual and gender minorities. J Immigr Minor Health. 2018 Nov 21. doi: 10.1007/s10903-018-0838-y. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 30465116.

  • School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC

  • Department of Psychology, The George Washington University, Washington, DC

  • Health Equity and Community Action Department, La Clínica del Pueblo, Washington, DC

  • College of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

  • Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, DC