Disproportionately High Number of Latinos With HIV/AIDS Live in Northeastern New York; Officials Identify Contributing Factors
Health officials attending a conference in Albany, N.Y., on Thursday said that several factors, including language barriers, lack of health insurance and "macho" traditions that pervade relationships, contribute to high HIV/AIDS rates among Latinos, the Albany Times Union reports. A disproportionately high number of HIV-positive Latinos live in northeastern New York, according to the New York State Health Department. Although Latinos make up only 2% of the population in the 17-county region, they represent 12% of the total number of HIV/AIDS cases. This "discrepancy" mirrors a national trend, with Latinos representing 13% of the U.S. population but accounting for 19% of HIV/AIDS cases in 2000, according to the CDC (Hughes, Albany Times Union, 3/14). About 300 doctors, educators, AIDS program administrators, researchers, Latinos living with HIV/AIDS and government officials from the cities of New York, Jersey City, Boston, Chicago and Denver on Wednesday and Thursday met at the Reunion Latina 2003: Uniting and Fighting Against AIDS conference (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/13). HIV/AIDS service providers at the conference said that they faced challenges in convincing Latinos to get tested for the disease and seek treatment if they test positive. New York Health Department spokesperson Kristine Smith said that infection rates have always been high among the Latino and African-American communities in the state. "Our epidemic here was always different," Smith said, adding, "It was never the disease of gay white males that it was in some other parts of the country." According to the Times Union, HIV in New York has been spread "more commonly" through injection drug use than through unprotected sex between men; however, HIV is now "increasing[ly]" being transmitted through heterosexual activity (Albany Times Union, 3/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.