The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study in observance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day on October 15. Published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the study, titled “Geographic Differences in HIV Infection Among Hispanics or Latinos—46 States and Puerto Rico, 2010,” examined the characteristics of Hispanics or Latinos who were diagnosed with HIV in 2010 and the geographic distribution of HIV in Puerto Rico and the 46 states with long-term name-based HIV reporting.
The report found that HIV continues to be a serious health threat to Latinos throughout the United States, as the rate of new infections among Hispanics is three times higher than that for whites (26.4 versus 9.1 per 100,000). The report also emphasized significant regional differences in the Latino epidemic: Latinos in the Northeast United States had the highest HIV diagnosis rates in the nation and were more likely than those in other regions to be infected through injection drug use, whereas Latinos in the South had the highest number of new diagnoses and were more likely than those in the Northeast to be infected through contact with men who have sex with men (MSM). Report data showed that Latino gay and bisexual men are by far most affected, accounting for more than 80 percent of all infections among Latino men. Furthermore, Latinas (Hispanic women) also are severely impacted—with rates of new HIV infections four times that of white women.
Federal and community-based programs are fighting HIV in Latinos. The federal program, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), calls for prioritizing US HIV efforts on highly impacted populations, including Latinos. At the community level, CDC is reaching Latinos through a three-year demonstration project in 12 US cities with the highest HIV burden. Also, CDC has funded 34 community-based organizations (CBOs) to expand prevention among young MSM and young transgendered persons of color; 18 of the 34 CBOs reach out specifically to Hispanic MSM. CDC has also expanded the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative to include national Latino organizations that work extensively with larger Latino communities. There is no single solution to the epidemic among Latinos, and the work must occur on all levels—national, state, community, and individual.