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Because of ongoing political and social instability throughout the continent, many Africans have become forced migrants. Unlike immigrants who choose to migrate, forced migrants flee their countries in search of safety and often endure multiple traumatic events during their migration. They are often unprepared for new risks in their adopted country. There is a high incidence of newly diagnosed HIV cases among West African immigrants in the New York City metropolitan area, but little research to date to understand why this might occur. In order to gain insight, the current pilot study explored HIV knowledge, risk and protective behaviors among 52 West African-born forced migrants in New York City. HIV risk behavior came primarily from unprotected heterosexual activities. While most participants were very knowledgeable about HIV transmission and risk factors, almost half reported that they had not used condoms during sexual activities in the past 6 months. Women were more knowledgeable about HIV transmission, yet reported significantly more STDs than men. Many participants did not know about HIV/AIDS treatments and could not identify HIV/AIDS services and resources within their immigrant communities. Factors influencing HIV risk and protective behaviors among this population are identified and discussed. Suggestions for future research and strategies to reduce risky behaviors while enhancing protective ones among forced West African migrants are highlighted.

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