Diagnosis of New HIV Cases Among Hispanics in Florida County Increase After County, State Boost Outreach
HIV/AIDS awareness initiatives targeted at Hispanic communities have contributed to a significant increase in HIV testing and thus new HIV diagnoses in Polk County, Fla., the Lakeland Ledger reports. According to the Ledger, Hispanics in Polk County accounted for 21% of new HIV cases diagnosed in 2006, compared with 16% in 2004 and 2005. Hispanics made up 21 of the county's new HIV cases in 2006, compared with 11 in 2000. According to the Ledger, increased HIV cases "sometimes reflec[t] better outreach, more people tested or overall population growth." Women in the county make up a declining percentage of total HIV cases in part because of "significant decreases" reported among black women, the Ledger reports. Last year, there were 17 newly reported HIV cases among black women, compared with 38 in 2000. Twelve new HIV cases were reported among white women and 10 were among Hispanic women in 2006, compared with eight among white women and three among Hispanic women in 2000. The Ledger also reports that blacks made up 43% of the county's 99 new HIV cases in 2006, compared with 42% of 93 new cases in 2005 and 63% of new cases in 2000.
The state since 2001 has targeted the Hispanic community for HIV/AIDS awareness, according to Ronald Henderson, who works with minority outreach for the Florida Department of Health's Bureau of HIV/AIDS. Henderson said, "We have increased media and marketing messages, formed advisory groups, increased HIV testing and designated a Latino coordinator to respond to the community HIV/AIDS needs" (Williams Adams, Lakeland Ledger, 3/16). According to the Ledger, lack of insurance, costs and fear of immigration issues prevent many immigrants from going to local clinics or hospitals to be tested for HIV. The Polk County Health Department has been visiting local convenience stores and bus stops during the weekend and evenings to convince Hispanics to be tested for HIV, according to Catalina Mondragon, a coordinator from the health department. Mondragon also facilitates discussion groups in Spanish for Hispanic women (Montalvo, Lakeland Ledger, 3/16).