Latina Women Along U.S.-Mexico Border at Increased Risk of Contracting HIV, Study Says
Latina women who live along the border of the United States and Mexico have a higher risk of contracting HIV than other Latina women, according to a University of Arizona study that is scheduled to be presented this week at the U.S.-Mexico HIV/AIDS Border Conference in Tucson, Ariz., the Arizona Daily Star reports. Antonio Estrada, director of the University of Arizona's Mexican-American Studies and Research Center and lead author of the study, said that some Latinas living near the border lack knowledge about HIV/AIDS and are unaware of their partner's sexual history and fidelity and have limited access to medical care. As a result, many heterosexual Latina women discover that they are HIV-positive only after their partner is diagnosed with HIV, Estrada said, adding that some U.S. men who live along the border visit sex workers in Mexico, where prostitution is legal. Patty Quijada, who lives in Tucson, said that some men feel angry or hurt if their wives want to be tested for HIV, adding that the men "feel their wives don't trust them" or are worried that the test will come back positive. In addition, although obstetrician/gynecologists in private practice "routinely" test pregnant patients for HIV, routine HIV testing has not yet begun in public OB/GYN offices near the border. Health officials agree that increased funding for HIV/AIDS education programs along the border is needed. Estrada added that a comprehensive study on Latina women and HIV/AIDS, which would cost about $200,000 for a study of 2,000 women over three years, needs to be conducted to "better gauge the problem of the effects of HIV and AIDS on Hispanic women on the border." More than 300 U.S. and Mexican researchers were scheduled to gather yesterday at the conference to present research on HIV/AIDS along the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border (Duarte, Arizona Daily Star, 9/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.