The Limits of “Heterosexual AIDS”: Ethnographic Research on Tourism and Male Sexual Labor in the Dominican Republic
For nearly two decades, the AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean—now showing HIV prevalence rates that are second only to Sub-Saharan Africa—has been officially described in public health and epidemiological reports as “heterosexual.” At the same time, men with a history of same-sex exchanges or who are involved in sexual commerce have been largely neglected or under-prioritized in HIV/AIDS policies and programs, despite persistently high HIV infection rates in this population. This chapter draws on three years of ethnographic research in two cities in the Dominican Republic among men involved in informal sexual exchanges in tourism areas, and considers how men's experiences with tourists problematizes static public health labels such as “the heterosexual epidemic.” It is argued that traditional public health approaches are largely incapable of capturing the nuances of men's experiences or the ways their behavior is shaped by the large-scale transformations in gender, sexuality, and work.
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