LATINO WOMEN: Often Avoid Routine Screening
Latino women are "less likely than either white or black women to have had a gynecological checkup in the last year, or two years - - or ever," the Bergen Record reports. According to a survey last spring by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Los Angeles Times, more than 33% of Latino women had not had a "routine gynecological or prenatal exam" in the last year, 25% had not had one in the last two years and more than 10% report never having had an exam at all. Health experts say the findings should cause some alarm, as Latino women are particularly susceptible to some illnesses that could be detected and treated. CDC officials have said that HIV infection rates are on the rise in the Latino community, especially among women. Dr. Rodrigo Cardenas, president of the public health organization La Salud Hispana, said, "Latino women have a higher incidence of HIV and AIDS because of lack of education and the machismo attitude that their male partners may have." He notes that those reasons have prompted his organization to offer free health expos offering HIV counseling. Another CDC study, done in conjunction with the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, shows that cervical cancer rates for Latinas are more than double the general population. Avoiding routine exams may be a leading factor in the elevated rate, according to some health officials. Dr. Jose Chavez, a Passaic, NJ, gynecologist, said, "Cervical cancer is ... prevalent in the Latino population. It's a shame, because it's a cancer that progresses very slowly, and patients let the cancer advance because they don't seek medical treatment" (Alvarado/Mestel, 8/23).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.