Author(s): Padilla MB, Reyes AM, Connolly M, Natsui S, Puello A, , Padilla MB, Reyes AM, Connolly M, Natsui S, Puello A,
Abstract Share this page
Abstract BACKGROUND: The Caribbean has the highest prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS outside sub-Saharan Africa, and a broad literature suggests an ecological association between tourism areas and sexual vulnerability. Tourism employees have been shown to engage in high rates of sexual risk behaviours. Nevertheless, no large-scale or sustained HIV prevention interventions have been conducted within the tourism industry. Policy barriers and resources are under-studied. METHODS: In order to identify the policy barriers and resources for HIV prevention in the tourism sector, our research used a participatory approach involving a multisectoral coalition of representatives from the tourism industry, government, public health and civil society in the Dominican Republic. We conducted 39 in-depth semi-structured interviews with policy makers throughout the country focusing on: prior experiences with HIV prevention policies and programmes in the tourism sector; barriers and resources for such policies and programmes; and future priorities and recommendations. RESULTS: Findings suggest perceptions among policy makers of barriers related to the mobile nature of tourism employees; the lack of centralized funding; fear of the 'image problem' associated with HIV; and the lack of multisectoral policy dialogue and collaboration. Nevertheless, prior short-term experiences and changing attitudes among some private sector tourism representatives suggest emerging opportunities for policy change. CONCLUSION: We argue that the time is ripe for dialogue across the public-private divide in order to develop regulatory mechanisms, joint responsibilities and centralized funding sources to ensure a sustainable response to the HIV-tourism linkage. Policy priorities should focus on incorporating HIV prevention as a component of occupational health; reinforcing workers' health care rights as guaranteed by existing law; using private sector tourism representatives who support HIV prevention as positive role models for national campaigns; and disseminating a notion of 'investment' in safer tourism environments as a means to positively influence tourist demand.
This article was published in Health Policy Plan
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research