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Recent studies have documented frequent use of female sex workers among Latino migrant men in the southeastern United States, yet little is known about the context in which sex work takes place, or the women who provide these services. As anthropologists working in applied public health, we use rapid ethnographic assessment as a technical assistance tool to document local understandings of the organization and typology of sex work and patterns of mobility among sex workers and their Latino migrant clients.
By incorporating ethnographic methods in traditional public health needs assessments, we were able to highlight the diversity of migrant experiences and better understand the health needs of mobile populations more broadly.
We can do a lot to improve access if they [migrant workers] could be part of the regular infrastructure. They are not integrated into society. When you push people out of the mainstream, they go off into different venues to get sex and other needs met. Although a large proportion of Latinos still live in states with established Latino populations such as California, Florida and New York, their share has been rapidly growing in other places, most notably in the southeastern United States, where states such as Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina more than doubled their Latino population sizes.
North Carolina, for example, experienced a rapid increase in the Latino population, from 1. The migration of Latinos into these southeastern states has been driven by employment opportunities in construction and agriculture.
Public health studies focusing on the South have documented the social dimensions that facilitate exposure to sexual risk for these men Painter For instance, Parrado and Flippen found that migration to the United States was associated with a younger age of sexual debut and that sexual initiation was more likely to take place with a sex worker.