OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the vulnerability for STI/HIV among Mexican indigenous women in common law marriage with men who practice sex without condom. METHODS: Ethnography study undertaken in indigenous villages of Michoacán and Oaxaca, Mexico, in February 2004 and December 2005. These rural communities are characterized by high migration rates, extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS cases. An in-depth interview was applied to transient migrants (24), indigenous women (33), local authorities (20) and health providers (14). RESULTS: Rural propagation of STI/HIV is associated to sexual female initiation and mostly to migrants' fear their concubines will have extramarital sex during their absence. Impregnating their wives and the resulting childcare is one of the men's resources for controlling their concubines. CONCLUSIONS: Return migration implies vulnerability for indigenous women in the rural communities studied whose sexuality has a strong reproductive profile. It is necessary to develop prevention campaigns against STI/HIV taking into account male sexual identities to improve women rights to sexual and reproductive health.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; Transients and migrants; Indigenous population; Rural population; Health vulnerability; Anthropology, cultural; Mexico