Mexico’s Northern Border Conflict: Collateral Damage to Health and Human Rights of Vulnerable Groups

Pan American Journal of Public Health/Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública, Vol. 31, No. 5, pp. 403-410, 2012

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 89-2012

16 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2012 Last revised: 15 Feb 2015

Leo Beletsky

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences

Tommi Gaines

University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health

Lucie Nguyen

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - School of Medicine

Remedios M. Lozada

Patronado Pro-COMUSIDA

Gudelia Rangel

US-Mexico Border Commission

Alicia Vera

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - School of Medicine

Heather McCauley

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Andrea Sorensen

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Public Policy & Social Research

Steffanie A. Strathdee

University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health

Gustavo Martinez

Federación Mexicana de Asociaciones Privadas (FEMAP)

Date Written: March 6, 2012

Abstract

Objectives: Given links between policing environment and infectious disease risk among vulnerable groups, we surveyed female sex workers who inject drugs in Tijuana and Ciudad (Cd.) Juarez. Data were used to 1. compare distributions of human rights violations and disease risk, 2. juxtapose these patterns against demographic and structural environment variables, and 3. formulate implications for structural interventions.

Methods: Structured interviews and testing for sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) were conducted (October 2008-October 2009). Frequency of individual and environmental factors, including police abuse, HIV risk and protective behaviors were compared between sites using univariate logistic regression.

Results: Of 624 women, almost half reported police syringe confiscation despite syringes being legal and 55.6% reported extortion (last 6 months), with significantly-higher proportions in Cd. Juarez (p< 0.001). Reports of recent solicitation of sexual favors (28.5% in Tijuana, 36.5% in Cd. Juarez, p=0.04) and sexual abuse were commonplace (15.7% v 18.3%). Significantly lower prevalence of STIs in Tijuana (64.2% v 83.4%, p< 0.001) paralleled lower prevalence of sexual risk behaviors there. Cd. Juarez respondents reported significantly-higher median client loads (1.5 v 6.9, p< 0.001) and lower median pay per sex act (US$20 v US$10, p< 0.001) (last month). Relative to Tijuana, security deployment was perceived to increase more in Cd. Juarez (last year), especially army presence (59.2% v 72.1%, p=0.001).

Conclusions: Collateral damage from police practices in the context of Mexico’s drug conflict may impact public health in the Northern Border Region. Itinerant officers may facilitate disease spread beyond the Region. The urgency for mounting structural interventions is discussed.

Keywords: Female sex workers, injection drug users, conflict, structural environment, gender violence, HIV, infectious disease

Suggested Citation

Beletsky, Leo and Gaines, Tommi and Nguyen, Lucie and Lozada, Remedios M. and Rangel, Gudelia and Vera, Alicia and McCauley, Heather and Sorensen, Andrea and Strathdee, Steffanie A. and Martinez, Gustavo, Mexico’s Northern Border Conflict: Collateral Damage to Health and Human Rights of Vulnerable Groups (March 6, 2012). Pan American Journal of Public Health/Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública, Vol. 31, No. 5, pp. 403-410, 2012; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 89-2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2017094

Leo Beletsky (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences ( email )

400 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-5540 (Phone)

Tommi Gaines

University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

Lucie Nguyen

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

Remedios M. Lozada

Patronado Pro-COMUSIDA ( email )

Mexico

Gudelia Rangel

US-Mexico Border Commission ( email )

Tijuana
Mexico

Alicia Vera

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

Heather McCauley

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Andrea Sorensen

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Public Policy & Social Research ( email )

Box 951656
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

Steffanie A. Strathdee

University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Gustavo Martinez

Federación Mexicana de Asociaciones Privadas (FEMAP) ( email )

Juárez
Mexico

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