HIV/AIDS: Conference Highlights Crisis Among Latinos
The Harvard AIDS Institute is hosting a national Latino summit today to "highlight the urgent need for action" to stop the spread of AIDS in the nation's Latino population, the Boston Globe reports. "Latino business and health leaders, as well as actress Rosie Perez, will help launch an initiative called "Leading for Life/Unidos Para La Vida." Nicolas Carballeira, director of the Boston-based Latino Health Institute, said, "There's a direct correlation (between) socioeconomic status and risk for HIV," with lower-income and less-educated populations more likely to use intravenous drugs or have unprotected sex (Kong, Boston Globe, 5/2). Latinos make up just 12% of the U.S. population, yet they account for 18% of all AIDS cases -- up from 15% of new cases in 1995, according to a study released Friday by the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations. The COSSMHO study, HIV/AIDS: The Impact on Hispanics, also found that Hispanics have not benefitted as much as the general population from recent declines in AIDS deaths. While AIDS mortality declined 32% in 1996 among non-Hispanic whites, it fell only 20% among Hispanics and 13% among non-Hispanic blacks (Kaiser Family Foundation/COSSMHO release, 5/1).
Knowledgeable, But Vulnerable
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation National Survey of Latinos on HIV/AIDS released Friday, one in two Latinos rate AIDS as the nation's most urgent health problem, while one-third (35%) say they know someone personally who has HIV or has died from AIDS. Forty-six percent say they are very worried about contracting HIV, a higher level than that of the American population in general (24%). The survey indicates that almost all Latinos (98%) know that HIV is sexually transmitted and that a pregnant woman with HIV can pass it on to her baby (92%).
The Kaiser survey also found that 70% of Latinos heard something about HIV/AIDS in the past month on a television news program, 44% got information from a television entertainment show, 42% got information from radio talk or call-in shows and 34% got information from other radio programming. In addition, health care providers (32%), family or friends (28%) and the church (20%) also were cited as sources of information. According to Dr. Sophia Chang, director of HIV Programs for the Kaiser Family Foundation, "Even those who are most knowledgeable about AIDS say there is more information they want, especially about the most practical aspects of HIV prevention: how to talk with children and partners, and where to go for testing and treatment" (KFF/COSSMHO release, 5/1).