Sunday, August 3, 2008

Latino HIV/AIDS Rate on the Rise

The rate of Latinas/os and Latino/a immigrants infected with HIV and AIDS is on the rise. The results of a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveal that Latinas/os in Washington DC have the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the country. According to federal officials, although Latinas/os only make up 14% of the nations population, they represented 22% of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses in 2006. Another startling statistic says that in major U.S. cities, as many as 1 in 4 gay Latino men has HIV, a rate on par with sub-Saharan Africa.

The effects of the HIV/AIDS crisis are especially dramatics among the Latino/a im/migrant population. Economic pressures, language barriers, cultural dissonance, and legal status have created a unique convergence of factors that affect the Latino/a immigrant population and put them at high risk for infection or late testing. Many undocumented im/migrants often do not get tested or delay testing for fear of arrest and deportation. This late testing not only means earlier death but it can also mean increased spread of the virus.

According to Oscar De La O, president of Bienestar, Latinas/os are “at the center of the storm.” "Hispanics are overrepresented in this epidemic, and we need to target our efforts to them," Center for Disease Control epidemiologist Kenneth Dominguez said in an interview. Currently there is little being done by government agencies to address the epidemic among Latinas/os, but hopefully that will soon change with the release of these new statistics and increased mobilization from the Latino/a community.

Please check out The Washington Post article for more information. It was a very interesting report, and while it has its flaws it discussed a lot of issues that other news outlets tend to shy away from. Check out the part where they talk about the oppression that many Latino gay men face in the mainstream white gay scene and they way that that places them at higher risk:

Many are "objectified" by white men who view them as exotic. They play subservient roles to partners with citizenship or money. The "triple oppressive experiences of poverty, racism and homophobia" lead many to risky behavior, Diaz [Rafael Diaz, a pioneer in examining the impact of the AIDS epidemic on Latino gay men and professor at San Francisco State University] said. "People are looking for respite and relief from a sense of isolation, economic deprivation and low self-esteem. Sometimes sex is the place where men find that."

This information came out a few days before Phill Wilson, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute and one of the authors of the report, "Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic," decalred that “Nothing short of a mass Black mobilization will be sufficient to turn around the AIDS epidemic in Black America.” I hope that people of color will organize around Wilson’s rallying call and build coalitions to bring attention to the ways in which our communities are under attack.

For more information on Latino/a AIDS Prevention and Support Services please check out...

The Latino Commission on AIDS

Hispanic AIDS Forum

Bienestar

1 comment:

Isabella said...

I think National Latino Aids Awareness Day is a great idea and a great step. It's smart that it coincides with the end of Hispanic Heritage month. After all the celebration and cultural awareness, it's good to have a knowledge of what issues are facing the community and what we can do about it.

There's one influential Hispanic out there who's also trying to use her voice to create awareness on how we can improve our lives further!


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