HIV Infection Rate High Among Gay, Bisexual Latinos in San Diego-Tijuana Border Region
The rate of HIV infection among young gay and bisexual Latinos in California's San Diego-Tijuana border area is three times the rate of HIV infection among Latinos in other California cities, according to a University of California Universitywide AIDS Research Program survey released on Friday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Researchers collected blood samples from 374 gay and bisexual Latinos -- 249 in Tijuana and 125 in San Diego --- between the ages of 18 and 29. None of the participants had been previously tested for HIV. Researchers found that 18.9% of Tijuana participants and 35.2% of San Diego participants were
HIV-positive. According to previous studies, HIV infection rates for Latinos in Sacramento, San Francisco, Long Beach, Riverside and Sonoma County ranged between 8% to 9%. In addition, the survey showed that 39% of Tijuana participants and 27% of those in San Diego reported having "sex with a female on the other side of the border." The survey also showed that 35.3% of Tijuana participants reported having more than 10 female sex partners in their lifetime, compared to 6.4% of participants in San Diego. According to the study, Tijuana participants were more likely than San Diego participants to engage in unprotected vaginal sex and unprotected anal sex with a female partner. According to Dr. Juan Ruiz, acting chief of epidemiology for California's Office of AIDS and the study's lead researcher, the reasons for the high border infection rates are "unclear." Ruiz said, "They're probably not exposed to a lot of prevention messages, don't have access to condoms or maybe they just don't feel like using them." Researchers called for "binational cooperation in combatting the HIV/AIDS epidemic" in the border area (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/23).