The Effect of Immigration Status on Neurocognitive Functioning in Latinx Immigrants with HIV

Denise Stephany Oleas, Fordham University


Ethnoculturally diverse individuals are disproportionately affected by HIV infection and poorer neurocognitive and physical health outcomes. Research shows sociocultural factors may serve as risk (e.g., perceived discrimination, acculturation) and protective factors (e.g., bilingualism) against neurocognitive decline, but nativity status has often been understudied. Indeed about 44% the Latinx population identifies as immigrants, yet the literature offers relatively limited insight into the relation between immigration status and patterns on neurocognitive functioning in individuals with HIV. The Immigrant Health Paradox, a hypothesized phenomenon observed wherein immigrants have better health outcomes than their host country counterparts, appears to be a protective factor against other physical illness, therefore its buffering qualities could potentially extend to brain health. A few prior studies have examined the extent of the Immigrant Health Paradox in neurocognitive functioning, but they lacked comprehensive neuropsychological batteries, well-characterized demographic questionnaires, and clinical populations. Thus, this cross-sectional study addresses this important gap in the literature by investigating the associations between nativity status, immigration patterns (e.g., age at migration, and years in the U.S.), and neurocognitive functioning, in HIV+ Latinx immigrants (n=34) and U.S. born Latinx adults (n=71), utilizing a well-validated neuropsychological battery. The results revealed that Latinx immigrants on average have worse neurocognitive functioning on tests of verbal fluency and processing speed (p<.05) compared to U.S. born Latinx adults; Latinx immigrants who migrated during middle adulthood (ages 20-49) have worse neurocognitive functioning in processing speed (p<.01), verbal fluency (p<.05), attention/working memory (p<.05), and executive function (p<.05), in comparison to those who migrated during early and late life and U.S-born Latinx adults; and no significant differences were observed between Latinx immigrants who migrated during middle adulthood and have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years compared to Latinx U.S. born Latinx adults. In conclusion, nativity status is an important demographic variable that should be considered when evaluating neurocognitive performance in the context of Latinx individuals with and without HIV.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Oleas, Denise Stephany, "The Effect of Immigration Status on Neurocognitive Functioning in Latinx Immigrants with HIV" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI29257245.