LatinaLista — As of 2007, Hispanics represented 15.3% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau), but accounted for 19% of those living with AIDS and 18% of those living with an undiagnosed HIV infection (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Limited access to prevention and care, cultural and language barriers, and immigration status contribute to this disparity. Liliana RaÃ±Ã³n, National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Director
Today, October 15, is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. In observance of the continuing crisis that affects too many Latinos, the Latino Commission on AIDS created a new web site in Spanish that they hope will reach those Latinos who communicate predominantly in Spanish.
Yet, regardless of language, there are certain facts about AIDS and the most effective ways to get people afflicted with AIDS or HIV help.
A study dubbed the GRACE (Gender, Race And Clinical Experience) project uncovered some unsettling trends:
In the United States, HIV/AIDS is on the rise among women and people of color. Today, women account for more than one-quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses, and African-American and Latina women represent 79 percent of women living with the disease.
Overall, 65 percent of people living with HIV in the United States are people of color. Despite these staggering statistics, women and people of color are under-represented in clinical treatment studies, often due to barriers such as availability of child care, lack of transportation, financial burden, and stigma.
Latinos, in particular, may face certain challenges when it comes to HIV treatment and prevention. For example, the rates of sexually transmitted diseases, which can increase the chances of contracting HIV, are higher for Hispanics/Latinos than for other groups.
In addition, more than 1 in 5 Hispanics/Latinos live in poverty. Problems associated with poverty, including unemployment, a lack of formal education, inadequate or lack of health insurance, and limited access to high-quality health care, can increase the risk for HIV infection.
But what does all this actually mean for those of us who may not be afflicted with AIDS?
It means encourage young people and others who may have unprotected sex to use condoms. If they are sexually active, encourage them to get tested for HIV every so often.
And above all, keep talking about it with young people and those older who don’t think they will ever get infected. The more we talk about it, the more the stigma is removed and the message becomes clearer — AIDS/HIV is an affliction that impacts the whole community and the only way to combat it is by openly talking about it without passing judgement but offering support.