(RxWiki News) Hispanics make up the fastest growing population in America. They're also among the most heavily impacted by HIV and AIDS – and an important piece of the puzzle of putting an end to AIDS.
National Latino AIDS Awareness Day on October 15 is part of the effort to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS in Latino communities across America. Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 20 percent of new HIV infections in 2009, and 3,300 Hispanics with AIDS died that same year, the most recent that data is available.
"Take action to spread awareness about the risk of HIV among Latino communities."
National Latino AIDS Awareness Day was started in 2003 by the Latino Commission on AIDS. The focus is to reach out to Latino communities, where messages about the dangers of HIV and AIDS may not have gotten through.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite these sobering statistics:
- Hispanics/Latinos represent approximately 16% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 20% of new HIV infections in 2009, the most recent year these data were available.
- Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 19% of people living with HIV infection in 2009.
- Since the epidemic began, almost 18,000 Hispanics/Latinos with AIDS have died in the United States and its dependent areas. In 2009, nearly 3,300 Hispanic/Latino individuals with AIDS died.
A recent report issued by the CDC found that the rate of infection among Hispanic/Latinos is three times higher than that of white Americans. But the burden of infection varies over geographical regions.
The Northeast is the heaviest hit for Latinos. There, they have the highest rates of HIV diagnosis in the entire country, and the origin of infection is more likely to be from injection drug use.
Four of the five states where HIV is most common among Latinos are in the Northeast. Fifty five out of every 100,000 Latinos have been diagnosed with HIV – more than twice any other region.
The South follows the Northeast, with 34 percent of reported cases living in the region. The West and Midwest have the next highest rates, respectively.
In the Latino community in general, gay and bisexual men are at highest risk for HIV. But Hispanic women are also at risk – they are four times more likely to be infected than white women.
Knowing how HIV and AIDS affects the Latino population is important, because part of the national AIDS strategy is to target populations that are the most heavily impacted. There are pilot programs across America that are experimenting with the most effective ways to prevent the spread of HIV in cities and rural areas.
There have been major initiatives to encourage Americans – across all ethnicities – to get tested for HIV. Knowing your status is the first step to stopping the spread of the virus.