Chronicle Examines Rise in HIV Infection Rates Among Latino Men in California-Mexico Border Region
The San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday examined the increasing rate of HIV infection among young gay and bisexual Latino men who migrate between California and Mexico, a rise that health officials fear may represent an "AIDS explosion in the making." According to a study released by the Department of Health Services in February, more than 35% of young Latino men who have sex with men in San Diego -- as well as about 19% in Tijuana -- are infected with HIV, rates that are "far above" those of similar groups in other cities in the state. The study, conducted by the University of California Universitywide AIDS Research Program, analyzed blood samples from 374 gay and bisexual Latino men -- 125 in San Diego and 249 in Tijuana -- between the ages of 18 and 29 who had not tested positive for HIV in the past.
Robin Slade, founder of the Bi-National AIDS Advocacy Project, said that a lack of education about HIV transmission, a "widespread resistance" to using condoms and a "persistent stigma attached to homosexuality and AIDS" among U.S. Latinos and Mexicans have contributed to the rising rates of HIV infection. AIDS experts also said that poverty, which is often paired with prostitution and intravenous drug use, has led to increased rates of HIV infection in Tijuana. The Chronicle reports that the Mexican health care system also has contributed to increased HIV infection rates among young gay and bisexual Latino men. Some HIV-positive men, for example, have reported that "misinformed or bigoted" physicians in Mexico refused to treat them because of their HIV status. In addition, Mexican doctors have said that nation's public health system "lacks the resources to adequately treat" patients with HIV/AIDS (Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.