José Félix Colón Burgos

Project Title: Examining the Syndemic of drug use and HIV among Latino MSM who work in the Tourism sector of South Florida

This pilot project will provide the basis for future multi-method research that is crucial to develop effective HIV prevention interventions among at-risk Latino men who have sex with men (LMSM) in the U.S. area with the highest HIV case rates: South Florida (Miami and Fort Lauderdale, 47.0 and 40.1 per 100,000, respectively). Despite the economic importance of tourism and continuous flow of people through this region, no research to date has examined how the ecological factors of tourism areas contribute to HIV risk or drug use in South Florida (SF). Focusing on LMSM labor migration, and their sexual and drug use behaviors in the SF touristic region, this study examines how HIV risk and drug use among LMSM are related to (1) patterns of migration and (2) the social environments of tourism. We relate contemporary demographic changes to HIV and drug use practices through the notion of tourism ecologies – geographically constrained areas in which five ecological features (social isolation; social stigma; business norms; touristic escapism; and drug and alcohol availability) contribute to high health risk behaviors. Data collection consists of: (1) institutional ethnography of the South Beach touristic area; (2) semi-structured interviews with 36 systematically selected LMSM tourism workers in the South Beach tourism area; (3) ethnographic mapping and spatial analysis using Arc-GIS in the tourism area of South Beach. The study will be the first to focus on the social context of tourism areas of SF as a determinant of HIV and drug abuse risks among LMSM employed in tourism.

Research Interests

Tourism, health risk behaviors, Latino MSM, HIV risk, drug use, South Beach, South Florida, syndemic

Post-Doctoral Associate
Center for Research on US Latino HIV/AIDS and Drugs

Dr. José Félix Colón Burgos completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey campus, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Mental Health, and a minor in Sociology. He continued his graduate studies in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Puerto Rico, Health Sciences campus, where he earned a Masters in Science in Health Systems Research and Evaluation and a doctorate in Public Health specializing in the study of the Social Determinants of Health. José Félix has worked as a research evaluator with various community, state and international organizations aiming to tackle social and public health problematics from a social justice perspective.  His research interests include the study of the social determinants of health and the social determination of health, the effects of inequality and social structures in health, maternal and child health, substance abuse and sexual risk behaviors, access to health services and the study of the political economy of health. José incorporates the use of social theory, critical medical anthropology and critical public health with ethnographic, qualitative and quantitative research techniques to explore the pathways of health risk in socially marginalize populations.

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