I began my career as a researcher in public health at the University of Michigan in 2009. At the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities (SexLab), I collaborated on multiple mixed-methods studies examining how community attributes and intersecting social identities shape rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among young gay and bisexual men and transwomen. In 2015, I decided to pursue a PhD in Sociology – with a focus on health and inequality – at Emory University. Since that time, I have continued my work among queer youth in Atlanta and expanded my interests to primary care in Brazil.

Health inequity – or differences in quality and access to care between groups – remains a persistent global public health concern that is both avoidable and unjust. Indeed, global health experts have been advocating since the 1970s for the expansion of community-based primary health care as a means of addressing inequity. In having to navigate an unfamiliar health system and communicate across linguistic and cultural differences, immigrants face particular struggles in obtaining equitable access to quality healthcare. The sociological and public health literature has demonstrated how immigrants to the United States, especially those who are undocumented, encounter a labyrinthine system that is less than welcoming. In contrast, Brazil’s government has offered nominally equal access to health services for immigrants through its public system – the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS). Yet less is known about immigrants’ experiences of healthcare utilization in the Brazilian context. Through participant observation and in-depth interviews, I am conducting a year-long ethnography in São Paulo investigating how immigrants use SUS, how medical professionals experience provision of services to immigrants, and how the structural and cultural features of SUS as an institution enable and restrict health equity for immigrants.