Hispanic females are disproportionately affected by substance abuse, intimate partner violence, and HIV. Despite these disparities, research describing the cultural and gender-specific experiences of Hispanic women with regard to these conditions is lacking. The purpose of this study is to describe the experiences that Hispanic community-dwelling women have with regard to substance abuse, violence, and risky sexual behaviors. Eight focus groups with 81 women were conducted. A bilingual, bicultural moderator asked women open-ended questions regarding the experiences that Hispanic women have with these conditions. Focus groups were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, verified, and then analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Participants discussed substance abuse, violence, and risky sexual behaviors interchangeably, often identifying common risk factors associated with these. Nevertheless, intimate partner violence was the most salient of conditions discussed. Three major themes emerged from the analysis: Transplantadas en otro mundo (Uprooted in another world), El criador de abuso (The breeding ground of abuse), and Rompiendo el silencio (Breaking the silence). This study supports the importance of addressing substance abuse, violence, and risk for HIV in an integrated manner and stresses the importance of addressing associated cultural factors (e.g., acculturation, machismo ) in interventions targeting Hispanics.
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