October 15, 2012
Today is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). This year’s theme is Hispanics United to End AIDS. This observance is coordinated by the Latino Commission on AIDS in partnership with public health, faith, and community organizations to draw the nation’s attention to the impact of HIV on Hispanic/Latino populations.
HIV remains a significant public health issue in Hispanic/Latino communities. Approximately 1 in 50 Hispanics/Latinos in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV in his or her lifetime. HIV infection rates among Hispanic women/Latinas are more than four times higher than among white women, and among Hispanic/Latino men are almost three times higher than white men. Additionally, CDC estimates suggest that four of five new infections in Hispanic/Latino men occur among gay and bisexual men, the largest proportion being among those younger than 30 years of age.
NLAAD 2012 focuses on ways to end the epidemic in Hispanic/Latino communities through open dialogue on HIV, through increased testing initiatives to ensure those infected know their status, and, if needed, through access to care and life-extending treatment. HIV testing is more important than ever with about one in five Hispanics/Latinos infected with HIV unaware of his or her status, and more than half of Hispanics/Latinos have never been tested for HIV.
There is no single solution to address HIV among Hispanics/Latinos. To be effective, we must tailor our prevention efforts to the diverse needs of the communities in which we work. To address HIV among Hispanics/Latinos, we must confront the social and economic realities that place some individuals in these communities at greater risk for HIV. These factors include a higher prevalence of HIV and higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections in some Hispanic/Latino communities compared to other communities, language barriers, uneven access to health insurance and medical care, as well as migration, stigma, and discrimination.
Each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of HIV among Hispanics/Latinos. On this National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, we thank all who are uniting at the national, state, local, and individual levels to keep the message about HIV at the forefront of discussions, to implement HIV prevention programs, and to confront the challenges, myths, and fears that place Hispanics/Latinos at high risk for HIV. For more information, go to CDC’s HIV among Latinos Web page (en español).
Kevin A. Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., F.F.P.H.
Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)