Hispanic, Black Men More Likely To Contract HIV From Drug Use, Related Risky Behavior, According to Findings Presented at Conference
Hispanic and black men are more likely than others to become HIV-positive through injection drug use and other risky behaviors related to any type of drug use, Rhonda Hagler, medical director of the New Jersey-based HIV/AIDS clinic Proceed, told participants at the 2007 National Conference on Latinos and AIDS on Monday, the Miami Herald reports. Hagler said, "Drugs, whether you inject them, inhale them or take them orally, alter your judgment and put you at risk for HIV."
According to a 2004 CDC survey, Hispanic and black men are nearly three times as likely as white non-Hispanic men and nearly twice as likely as Asian-Americans to contract the virus from sharing needles.
Hispanic and black women, on the other hand, are less likely than white non-Hispanic and Asian women to become HIV-positive through injection drug use. In addition, Hispanics are 43% more likely to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS during the disease's late stages, compared with 37% of non-Hispanic whites, according to a 2006 CDC report. The report also found that 45% of Hispanics have been tested for HIV/AIDS, compared with 54% of non-Hispanic whites.
Jose Moreno, professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said in a Herald interview, "My patients with HIV have a higher viral load because they've been infected for a long time and don't have the resources to see a doctor." He added, "Some of them may be illegal, and they're afraid of being deported."
Hagler said that HIV-positive individuals who use drugs have higher suicide rates; a quicker progression from HIV to AIDS; and complications from combining prescription drugs with illegal substances (Tasker, Miami Herald, 7/31).
Additional Conference Information
The conference aims to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among Hispanics and includes presentations from local and national health officials about prevention, statistics and overall impact of federal and state policy (Miami Herald, 7/30). Over two days, conference participants are expected to discuss Hispanics' lack of access to medical care and undocumented immigrants' awareness of HIV/AIDS (Miami Herald, 7/29). Actress Rosie Perez spoke at the conference Monday, saying, "We get tired and frustrated from the apathy there is on this subject," adding, "We must re-commit every morning. We're brothers and sisters in this fight" (Miami Herald, 7/31).