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El Remolque y el Vacil: HIV Risk Among Street Gangs in El Salvador

NCJ Number
Journal of Gang Research Volume: 13 Issue: 2 Dated: Winter 2006 Pages: 1-26
Julia Dickson-Gomez; Gloria Bodnar; Aradenia Guevara; Karla Rodriguez; Mauricio Gaborit
Date Published
26 pages
This study explored HIV risk behaviors among crack involved street gang members in El Salvador.
The results revealed that El Salvadorian street gang members are at a heightened risk for contracting HIV. Their increased vulnerability to HIV is brought about not only by their engagement in high risk activities, such an unprotected gang rapes and sex in exchange for drugs, but also as a result of their marginalized status in society. Gang members reported joining gangs to escape from violent homes and communities. After joining, gang members are exposed to a host of high risk activities, including the practice of “remolque” or gang rape, which carries considerable HIV risk for both female victims and male perpetrators. The results suggest the urgent need for HIV prevention programs to target this vulnerable population. These programs must also address the structural conditions that lead youths to join gangs in the first place. Participants were 20 former and current gang members who participated in in-depth interviews as part of a larger study on crack cocaine use and related HIV risk. Interviews focused on demographic information, childhood experiences, school experiences, family composition, drug use history, drug use sites, strategies to support drug use, gang involvement, and sexual experiences. Interview transcripts were coded into broad content categories and themes. Future research should examine HIV prevention strategies for reaching street gang populations. Tables, references, endnotes


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