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Vulnerability to HIV: tourism and the use of alcohol and other drugs

OBJECTIVE: To describe situations of alcohol and other drug use involving tourists, and their implications regarding vulnerability to HIV. METHODS: This was an exploratory qualitative study conducted in communities that host tourism in the Vale do Ribeira, State of São Paulo, from October 2002 to February 2003. In the first stage of the study, 29 monitors in four host communities were interviewed to gather scenarios of drug use involving tourists. In the second stage, two workshops were held, bringing together 77 interviewees and health and education professionals from ten communities, in order to dramatize the scenarios gathered in the interviews and share repertoires for dealing with these situations and finding ways for preventing HIV. RESULTS: The scenarios showed that alcohol and other drug use by tourists increases their vulnerability to HIV transmission through favoring casual sexual intercourse without condoms and sexual harassment and abuse. HIV prevention work in these communities that host tourism needs to take into account the consumption of these substances which use creates difficulties regarding safe sex practices and, in the case of injecting drugs that are shared, constitutes a risk factor for HIV transmission. CONCLUSIONS: This study provided data to help in understanding how situations of alcohol and other drug use fit within daily life in these host communities, thereby extending the vulnerability to HIV. The study produced analysis of the social context of HIV transmission that may provide backing for drawing up prevention programs that are better adapted to these communities.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; Tourism; Alcohol drinking; Substance-related disorders; Health vulnerability; Health promotion; Health education

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