St. Paul Pioneer Press Examines HIV/AIDS Among Hispanics in Minnesota
The St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday examined the spread of HIV among Hispanic men in Minnesota. According to a recent state report, the number of newly recorded HIV cases among Hispanic men doubled from 2005 to 2006, rising from 17 to 37. Although the trend eased slightly between 2007 and 2008 -- when 33 and 25 new cases, respectively, were recorded -- the prevalence of HIV among Hispanics is still triple the overall rate. The Pioneer Press reports that HIV/AIDS in the Hispanic community is beginning to attract national attention and that the Obama administration's new HIV prevention campaign allocates funding for tailored prevention messages to the community.
Maria Alvarez, who assists in directing male Hispanic prevention efforts at CDC, said the "machismo" attitude that can lead some Hispanic men to take more risks in their sexual behavior is a major challenge when addressing the population. She said that Hispanic men also require different messages, depending on the country in which they were born. Alvarez said the "message is just not being delivered in a culturally appropriate way for Latinos, who are so diverse."
Mario Villeda Maldonado, an advocate for Hispanic men who have sex with men in Minneapolis, said other factors, including the culture's strong Roman Catholic heritage, can lead many Hispanic MSM to avoid testing. He said this could help explain why 58% of HIV-positive Hispanic men are diagnosed with AIDS in Minnesota, compared with an average of 46% among other ethnicities and racial groups. Richard Wolitski, acting director of CDC's HIV/AIDS prevention program, said that is a "critical issue, because those individuals were not able to get treatment and medical care at an early point in time." He added that those people "may have unknowingly transmitted HIV to others."
The Pioneer Press also profiled Villeda's HIV/AIDS advocacy group, No Tengas Miedo (Don't Be Afraid), which offers testing, primary care, mental health counseling, nutritional education and other support. According to the Pioneer Press, Hispanic and black immigrants comprise 85% of the clinic's clients (Olson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/15).