LatinaLista — AIDS is a Latino problem more than ever.
That’s the analysis of a new report, The Crisis of HIV/AIDS Among Latinos/Hispanics in United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, released today by the Latino Commission on AIDS. Researchers found that â€œHispanics in the United States are the second most affected community, it is estimated that more than 200,000 individuals had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.”
When stated in this manner, the impact of the disease on the Latino population can’t really be appreciated, but if we view it as: Latinos represent only 15.3% of the U.S. population but comprise 22% of the HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in 2006 â€” well that should catch everyone’s attention.
Unfortunately, these numbers may only be the tip of the iceberg. Officials with the Latino Commission on AIDS say that the numbers could actually be much higher and will be known when the Center for Disease Control (CDC) releases their analysis on Sunday. However, officials caution that because the CDC doesn’t count some states, which are known to have high numbers of Latinos, the information may yet still be incomplete.
No matter how it’s looked at though, statistics like these underscore how the disease has reached crisis proportions in the Latino community. Where at one time great emphasis was placed on caution and prevention, those days are history for those in the Latino community today who are most at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS â€”
New infections among young Latino gay men are increasing at a rate that has not been seen in years.
AIDS cases among Latina women continue to climb at alarming rates with no apparent slowdown.
Heterosexual Latino men are emerging as a significant portion of those infected with HIV/AIDS, but the stigma of testing and being diagnosed keeps many away from accessing health care.
Yet, even with all the advancements that have been made in treating HIV/AIDS, Latinos are the least ones able to benefit from them. According to the report, “the most disturbing data from the diagnosed cases set out above is that Latinos were almost three times as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to die of HIV disease.”
Another disturbing revelation is that while undocumented immigrants are always falsely accused of bringing diseases into the county, the fact is they are contracting HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and transporting the disease back to their native countries.
Infection rates in Guatemala have shot through the roof compared to those of the United States or Mexico.
While the United Statesâ€™ HIV rate is 0.6 percent, twice Mexicoâ€™s rate of 0.3 percent. Guatemalaâ€™s HIV rate of 1.1 percent, nearly four times that of Mexico, even though Guatemala has a far smaller population, 12.7 million people – than that of Mexico, 108 million, and the United States, 301 million.
The sad and crucial impact of immigrants taking HIV/AIDS back to their native countries is that those countries aren’t as medically equipped to handle them and the cultural stigma attached to the disease is much more prevalent in those countries than in the U.S.
That’s why next week’s International AIDS Conference in Mexico City is such a fitting place to discuss the status of the disease and its impact on traditional and emerging at-risk populations and what more needs to be done for people to realize that everyone can get it.