Sacramento Bee Examines Efforts To Address HIV/AIDS Among Hispanics
The Sacramento Bee on Friday examined the effect of HIV/AIDS on Hispanics nationwide and a concern among some public health officials that the disease could be affecting the population more than believed because of a lag in testing. According to the Bee, Hispanics constituted about 20% of new AIDS cases in 2006 even though they make up 14% of the U.S. population.
The Bee reports that the need for outreach is urgent among Hispanics because a lack of HIV/AIDS awareness puts those who are HIV-positive and unaware of their status at risk of beginning antiretroviral therapy too late. This also means that HIV-positive Hispanics who are unaware of their status could be spreading the virus in the U.S., as well as in their home countries such as Mexico. In addition, on "both sides of the border, concern is high that AIDS could explode in Mexico if public health workers can't break through silence, traditional homophobia and fear among immigrants, especially the undocumented, to get tested," the Bee reports.
According to the University of California-Berkeley's Health Initiative of the Americas, one-fourth of Mexico's HIV/AIDS cases are detected among people who spent prolonged time in the U.S., and research by the California-Mexico AIDS Initiative reveals that rural Mexican women primarily contract HIV from their returning migrant husbands or partners.
Sacramento Mexican Consul Alejandra Bologna said that Mexico recognizes the "binational crisis-in-the-making" and said her office is preparing to routinely offer HIV information and testing referrals to anyone who is waiting at the consulate for an appointment on another matter. The Bee also reports that various Mexican consulates last week as part of Binational Health Week joined U.S. health agencies to emphasize HIV testing (Ferriss, Sacramento Bee, 10/17).