Somali Women's Initiative for Sexual Health

This study will be the first to examine HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of Somali women with the ultimate goal of meeting the critical need to reduce HIV and STD transmission among African-born Americans in Minnesota (and the U.S.) as African-born Americans have the highest HIV/AIDS rates of any ethnic group. Interviews will be conducted in either English or Somali by the project's bilingual Somali staff who will recruit participants through personal contacts as well as from Somali gathering places.

The project has been funded by the University’s Program in Health Disparities Research, the University’s IDEA Multicultural Research Award, and the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s UCare Fund. The information gathered from this study will be used to secure additional funding to further study the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to HIV/STD transmission and prevention within the Somali community. Ultimately the group will translate this knowledge to develop the first HIV counseling and testing intervention for Somali women.

The study researchers include Bean Robinson, PhD, principal investigator; Amira Ahmed, BA, founder and executive director at Midwest Community Development Inc.; Jennifer Connor, PhD, co-investigator; Shanda Hunt, BA, project coordinator; Fatah Ahmed, BA, interviewer and recruiter; and Meyran Omar, translator.

Advisory Board

The project’s Community Advisory Board assists and advises the research team in study development, recruitment, and data analysis and interpretation.


HIV infection among Somalis is increasing in Minnesota. In 2012, more Somali-born people were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS than any other ethnic group. Many Somalis living in Minnesota do not know they are infected and are not getting the medical treatment they need.

The University of Minnesota and Midwest Community Development, Inc. launched a project to explore HIV risk and sexual behaviors in Somali women. This report, designed for the Somali community, reviews what researchers found in their interviews with 30 local Somali women ages 18-40.

What We Found: Somali Women’s Initiative Sexual Health (SWISH)

Study results in English

Study results in Somali