October 15, 2010
Today, on October 15, National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD), we recognize the impact of the HIV epidemic on Latinos—the largest, youngest, and fastest growing ethnic group in the United States—and renew our commitment to reducing the burden of HIV and AIDS in this community. This year’s theme—Save a Life, It May Be Your Own. Get Tested for HIV—affirms the critical roles HIV testing and prevention education play in preventing the spread of HIV.
- In 2008, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 21% of persons diagnosed with AIDS in the United States and 5 U.S. dependent areas.
- In the United States in 2006, the rate of new HIV infection among Hispanic/Latino women was nearly four times the rate of white women.
- In the United States in 2006, the rate of new HIV infection among Hispanic/Latino men was about twice the rate of white men.
Late HIV diagnosis among HIV-infected Latinos is a key concern. In 2007, in 37 states and 5 U.S. dependent areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting since at least January 2005, a greater proportion of Hispanics/Latinos (36%) were diagnosed with AIDS within 12 months after learning they have HIV infection compared with whites (30%) and blacks/African Americans (32%). This means that many Latinos are not getting antiretroviral treatment at an earlier stage in their infection when medication could produce better health outcomes. It also means that infected persons may unknowingly transmit the virus to others. Research shows that most persons who are aware of their HIV status take steps to safeguard their health and protect their partners from becoming infected. When HIV infection is diagnosed early, appropriately timed interventions, particularly antiretroviral therapy, can lead to improved health outcomes and reduced infectiousness.
To ensure that Latinos and other disproportionately affected populations get tested earlier so that they can be linked quickly to life-saving treatment and prevention services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently broadened its successful expanded HIV testing program, first funded in 2007 to focus primarily on black men and women, to include Latino men and women as well as gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and injection drug users (IDUs) of all races and ethnicities.
Preventing HIV among Latinos is a top CDC priority, and our efforts are as diverse as the Latino community. In keeping with the imperative in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) to intensify HIV prevention efforts in communities where HIV is most heavily concentrated, CDC funds a variety of programs that direct prevention and treatment services to Latino populations, particularly Latino MSM who, along with gay and bisexual men of other races and ethnicities, bear the heaviest burden of the epidemic.
For example, to further address this disproportionate effect of HIV and AIDS on black and Latino MSM, CDC requested and received a $1.4 million supplement from the Department of Health and Human Services to enhance capacity building assistance services delivered to community-based organizations (CBOs) directly and indirectly funded by CDC, and community stakeholders providing HIV prevention services specifically for black and Latino MSM.
Moreover, of the 133 CBOs funded under a recent program announcement to support the development and implementation of effective community-based HIV prevention programs, 23% serve Latino populations and 49% are directed to MSM, including Latino MSM. Because CBOs have the cultural knowledge and local perspective to reach people who might not otherwise access HIV testing or other prevention services, partnership with these organizations represents a key part of CDC's fight against HIV.
CDC is also building partnerships with leading national Latino organizations and recently expanded its
Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative to include three Latino organizations and five additional African American organizations to help fight HIV among blacks, Latinos, and gay and bisexual men—the populations most affected by the HIV epidemic. The effort also directly supports the priorities identified in NHAS to focus on populations most affected by HIV.
Cultural and socioeconomic factors, such as poverty, language barriers, immigration status, health care access, and stigma surrounding homosexuality all have been identified as barriers to HIV treatment and prevention in the Latino community. To overcome these hurdles, we are focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating culturally and linguistically appropriate prevention interventions and identifying methods for improving access to HIV testing for Latinos and other populations at increased risk for HIV infection.
CDC released a new study in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report to further define the risk of HIV among Latinos and Latinas.
Read the article and a
statement by Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.
As we continue to address the cultural, socioeconomic, and health-related factors that contribute to the HIV epidemic in the Latino community, we recommit to strengthening our partnerships with the diverse Latino communities we serve and with the many Latino and other organizations that so ably support HIV prevention at the federal, state, and local levels. Thank you for your continued support.
/Jonathan H. Mermin/
Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., M.P.H.
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral
Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention