Hispanics in U.S. Contract HIV Through Different Transmission Routes Based on Birthplace, MMWR Study Says
HIV-positive Hispanics living in the U.S. contract the virus through different transmission routes primarily based on where they were born, according to a study published Thursday in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Reuters reports.
According to the study, male-to-male sexual contact was the transmission route for 65% of HIV cases among Hispanic men who were born in South America, 62% of cases among men born in Cuba, 54% of cases among men born in Mexico and 46% of cases among men born in the U.S. About 28% of HIV-positive Hispanics who were born in the U.S. contracted the virus through high-risk heterosexual sex, compared with 47% who were born in the Dominican Republic and 45% who were born in Central America, the study found. In addition, 33% of Hispanics living with HIV who were born in Puerto Rico contracted the virus through injection drug use, compared with 22% who were born in the U.S. The study found less knowledge about HIV/AIDS among injection drug users born in Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico than among IDUs born in the U.S.
The study also found that HIV diagnoses decreased by 4.7% and 13% among Hispanic men and women, respectively, from 2001 to 2004. The study was based on data provided by 33 states in 2005, Reuters reports.
The differences in HIV transmission routes among Hispanics in part is because of cultural and socioeconomic differences among Hispanic subgroups, including stigma associated with homosexuality, the study said. Hispanics have the second-highest HIV rate among all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. after blacks, the study noted.
Ken Dominguez, a CDC epidemiologist and study author, said, "In terms of the prevention messages, if you are looking at Hispanics, you can't look upon them as a monolithic group," adding, "You have to think about the various subcategories." Dennis deLeon, president of the New York-based Latino Commission on AIDS, said Hispanics are diverse in the amount of time they have lived in the U.S., as well as in levels of education and health literacy. He added that CDC "for too long" has been "treating" Hispanics as "all the same."
DeLeon also questioned the decrease in HIV diagnoses among Hispanics because the report did not include data from some states with large Hispanic populations, such as California (Dunham, Reuters, 10/11).
Several advocacy groups on Oct. 15 will host the National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in an effort to increase HIV awareness and testing among Hispanics, the Orlando Sentinel reports (Ramos, Orlando Sentinel, 10/12).
The study is available online.