Cultural values are key to reaching Hispanics

To effectively reach Hispanic youths with sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention messages, providers must understand that traditional cultural values may make safer sex practices difficult.

Traditional cultural values include:

  • Machismo, which may dictate that intercourse is a way for males to prove masculinity.
  • Familismo, which looks to the importance of the family as a social unit and source of support. While it can be a barrier to changing social norms, familismo can be a powerful factor to motivate behavior change.
  • Simpatía refers to the importance of polite social relations that shun assertiveness, negative responses, and criticism.
  • Personalismo refers to the preference for relationships that reflect familiarity and warmth. Health information and service delivery is most effective when workers establish warm relationships and ask questions about family and shared experiences.

Source: Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco. What Are Latinos’ HIV Prevention Needs? San Francisco: Center for AIDS Prevention Studies; 1996. Accessed at: