Southern U.S. Needs To Do More To Address HIV/AIDS Among Hispanics, Opinion Piece Says
"Demographers have noted that the South is one of the regions that have seen the most rapid influx of Latino workers," Marisa Trevio, who writes the blog "Latina Lista," writes in a USA Today opinion piece. She adds, "So with a steady influx of Latinos, and a growing number of them contracting HIV/AIDS, why aren't states making inroads via aggressive public awareness campaigns in attacking this preventable and treatable disease?"
According to Trevio, a recent study from the Latino Commission on AIDS "found that HIV/AIDS cases are rising at alarming rates among the two million Latinos in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee." She adds, "Prevention education isn't keeping pace." Trevio writes that public awareness efforts likely are not having much effect among Hispanics because the "targets of these messages -- which include legal and undocumented workers -- don't trust the messenger." A report from Progressive States Network found that "every state identified by the study, with the exception of Alabama, has passed policies criminalizing undocumented immigration," according to Trevio. "These laws intimidate people from seeking any assistance," she writes, adding, "For example, South Carolina passed a series of laws that include establishing a hotline to report suspected nonresidents and making it a crime to transport or harbor undocumented immigrants." The report found that as a "result of this anti-immigrant climate and the high rate of people without health insurance," many HIV-positive Hispanics do not "seek medical attention until they are in its late stages," Trevio writes.
However, some "states are trying to confront this crisis," according to Trevio, who adds that North Carolina in October "conducted a bilingual campaign to encourage people to get tested. Even so, the report found that these states didn't have enough bilingual professionals to address the crisis." Trevio writes that the study "made several recommendations, all rooted in communication. Whether it's utilizing more Spanish-language media to market prevention programs, training more people to speak Spanish, partnering with Latino organizations to replicate their successful programs or connecting with Hispanic religious and community leaders, it all comes down to opening lines of communication to a population that has been forced to stay in the shadows of society." She concludes, "For their health and for the health of the country, these Latinos must come forward -- and the sooner the better" (Trevio, USA Today, 12/19).