South Florida Sun-Sentinel (07.25.03) - Friday, July 25, 2003
According to a report released Thursday, Hispanics are
disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS yet are less likely to
be tested or seek treatment than non-Hispanics. The study
emphasized that although Hispanics make up 14 percent of the
US population, they account for almost a fifth of the 40,002
new cases reported annually, according to the National
Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. The alliance
authored the study and is an umbrella group of state health
departments responsible for HIV programs.
The report concludes the current health care system is ill-
prepared to deal with the ongoing crisis. It called for a
broader approach to reach the diverse Hispanic communities
that live in states such as Florida, New York and California.
"The way you develop prevention messages for Cuban-Americans
in Miami-Dade County would be different from how you develop
prevention messages to Colombians or Venezuelans just in terms
of the language you use," said Alberto Santana, director of
the national alliance.
In Florida, the picture was less daunting. While Hispanics
account for 17 percent of the population, they have 15 percent
of AIDS cases, according to state officials, said Spencer
Lieb, an epidemiologist with Florida's Bureau of HIV/AIDS.
Groups such as Hispanic AIDS Awareness in Miami say Florida
recently saw a resurgence of syphilis and other STDs that
could be matched by a rise in AIDS cases. They say many
Hispanics fear that testing could jeopardize their immigration
status. The problem is expected to grow, especially among
poorer Hispanics and migrant farmworkers who cannot afford
medical care and are not targeted by existing prevention
While Hispanics are increasingly affected by AIDS, blacks are
among the hardest hit. The report found the black community
accounted for 54 percent of the new HIV infections in 2002,
while whites represented 26 percent of new cases.