Increasing Number of HIV Cases Detected Among Central Florida Latinos Concerns Health Officials
An increasing number of Latinos in Central Florida are being diagnosed with HIV, raising concerns among some state health officials and advocacy groups, the Orlando Sentinel reports. According to state health district statistics, the number of new HIV cases among Latino adults in several Central Florida counties rose 19% from 1999 to 2004, compared with an 8% increase in new cases among whites and a 26% decrease among blacks during the same five-year period. The increases among Central Florida Latinos resemble a statewide trend, with the number of new cases among all Latinos in the state increasing 32% between 1999 and 2004. Health officials and advocates attribute the rise in the number of new cases in part to an increase in the region's Latino population, which rose 24% between 2000 and 2003, while the number of new HIV cases rose 12% during the same three-year period. Officials and advocates also say that people are not communicating the continuing threat of HIV infection and are circulating inaccurate information about the disease. In addition, they say a higher incidence of crystal methamphetamine use is leading to some people, particularly men who have sex with men, to engage in more risky sexual behavior and has contributed to the increase in the number of HIV cases. According to the data, the annual number of Central Florida HIV cases diagnosed among Latino MSM grew by 40% from 1999 to 2004, compared with a 49% increase in that population statewide. In response to the trends, the Orlando-Orange County Health Department and a coalition of 15 Central Florida organizations have joined together to alert Latinos in the region to the risk of HIV/AIDS. The groups have created the Cafe Latino Coalition, an umbrella group that uses a grassroots approach to prevention education, providing messages in Spanish and in the context of cultural values (Ramos, Orlando Sentinel, 9/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.