This study in 40 U.S. states and Puerto found that the rate at which Hispanics tested positive for HIV fell from 2006 through 2009. The falling HIV diagnosis rate held true for both men and women. These encouraging results could mean fewer Hispanics are getting infected with HIV and/or that fewer Hispanics are getting tested for HIV.
Other recent research showed a higher HIV testing rate among Hispanics than among whites in the United States from 2001 through 2009.6 So it seems likely that the falling HIV diagnosis rate in Hispanics mainly reflects a falling HIV infection rate. That probably means more Hispanic men and women in the United States, Mexico, South America and elsewhere are becoming more aware of HIV and are taking steps to protect themselves from infection -- like consistently wearing condoms during sex.
People who already have HIV can help slow its spread by telling sex partners they have HIV and by always using a condom during sex. Using condoms consistently is important even when two HIV-positive people have sex, because condoms protect you from getting infected with a second HIV virus, and they protect you from getting other sexually transmitted infections (like chlamydia and syphilis).
This study was large enough to track yearly HIV diagnosis rates in several Hispanic subgroups. These analyses showed that the HIV diagnosis rate is not falling in every subgroup and that it is rising in some subgroups. For example, the rate rose 4.2% from 2006 through 2009 in Hispanic men 20 to 29 years old. Also, among Hispanic men the HIV diagnosis rate fell sharply (13.1%) among those from Puerto Rico, but not among those from the United States, Cuba, Mexico, Central America, or South America. For Hispanic women, the HIV diagnosis rate fell significantly for those born in Puerto Rico (13.2%), Central America (12.2%), and the United States (6.8%), but not for those born in Cuba, Mexico, or South America. These findings underline possible differences in HIV awareness and risk-taking between Hispanics born in different countries.
Many Hispanics come to the United States to work in farming in rural areas or to join family or friends in cities. Migration itself can raise the risk of HIV infection by resulting in homelessness, loneliness, isolation, and poverty. The researchers point out that these factors can lead migrants to new sex partners, commercial sex, and drug use; they can also make it more difficult to access health care. Undocumented migrants may avoid health care or HIV testing because they fear being sent back to their home country.
A short time from a positive HIV test to AIDS may indicate HIV testing late in the course of HIV infection (at a lower CD4 count). A short HIV-to-AIDS time may also indicate poor access to health care or poor care. Hispanics who work as migrant farmers, have no health insurance, or have difficulty working with a healthcare system in an English-speaking country may have poor access to care.
Lower survival rates among Hispanics living in rural areas rather than cities could reflect later HIV diagnosis, lack of health care, or lack of insurance.
See the box for AIDS Hotlines that offer help en Español.
|AIDS Hotlines en Español|
AIDSinfo, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
New York State hotline
For other hotlines: www.projectinform.org/hotlines/.
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