Washington Post Examines HIV/AIDS Among Hispanics in U.S.
HIV/AIDS among the Hispanic community in the U.S. is reaching what some public health experts are calling a "simmering public health crisis," the Washington Post reports.
According to the Post, Hispanics account for about 14% of the U.S. population but represented 22% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2006. However, the 22% figure includes data from only 33 states and Puerto Rico, so the actual percentage could be higher, the Post reports (Connolly, Washington Post, 7/23). According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's statehealthfacts.org, Hispanics living in Washington, D.C., have the highest rate of new HIV/AIDS cases nationwide -- about 109.2 cases per every 100,000 people (Constable, Washington Post, 7/23). In addition, as many as one in four Hispanic men who have sex with men who live in major U.S. cities are HIV-positive.
According to the Post, language difficulties, cultural barriers and legal issues associated with immigration make the Hispanic community unique in terms of providing HIV prevention, education and treatment. Only two of 17 CDC programs target Hispanics, but the agency has implemented a Spanish-language hotline, confidential testing sites and other initiatives aimed at addressing HIV/AIDS among the Hispanic population. "Hispanics are overrepresented in this epidemic, and we need to target our efforts to them," CDC epidemiologist Kenneth Dominguez said.
Frank Galvan of the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science said that the U.S. needs to "make a dent" in reducing HIV/AIDS among Hispanics or the epidemic "will continue to spread to other populations." Oscar De La O, president of the Hispanic service group Bienestar, said U.S. officials "need to stop downplaying or ignoring what's happening among" Hispanics. De La O added that he is concerned U.S. immigration policies toward HIV-positive people will create "another underground in which [HIV-positive] people cannot access treatment but will not leave the country."
According to the Post, the "nexus of AIDS and migration" will "gain fresh prominence" next month at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. "Migrants tend to be lonely, separated from their family or partners," Dominguez said, adding, "They do not have health insurance. They may turn to drugs or alcohol. All of these put a migrant at higher risk."
This Post story also profiles Hispanics affected by HIV/AIDS in the U.S. The article was supported by a Kaiser Family Foundation mini reporting fellowship (Connolly, Washington Post, 7/23). In addition, a second Post article profiled the group La Clinica del Pueblo and its efforts to provide HIV education and prevention to Hispanics living in the district (Constable, Washington Post, 7/23).
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