Targeting Latinos in HIV Prevention Efforts

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In 2010, the Obama administration released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. One of the goals of the strategy is to reduce the number of new HIV infections by intensifying “HIV prevention efforts in communities where HIV is most heavily concentrated”, which includes the Latino community. According to the CDC, Latinos are disproportionately infected with HIV at a rate nearly three times as high as that of whites and they account for 20% of new HIV infections although they only represent 16% of the total US population. The need to target Latinos is finally acknowledged in this strategy, however, much work still needs to be done.

In response to the National Strategy, the National Latino AIDS Action Network released the National Latino/Hispanic HIV/AIDS Action Agenda which identifies priorities and specific recommendations to “effectively address the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS in Latino/Hispanic communities”.  This agenda, along with work from other national partners including the Latino Commission on AIDS who organizes the National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) on October 15, highlights the need to mobilize communities to work together in increasing awareness and prevention efforts in the Latino community.

This is why the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research plans to host an event ahead of NLAAD to encourage collaboration among local Baltimore community groups to address the problem of HIV in Latinos in Baltimore, where Latinos are twice as likely as Caucasians to be diagnosed with HIV infection. I am calling out to local Baltimore community groups who focus on HIV, such as AIDS Action Baltimore, and to groups who work with the Latino community, such as the Latino Providers Network, to participate in this event and collaborate in developing culturally-sensitive interventions, including HIV education and access to testing, to target Latinos in HIV prevention efforts.

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3 Responses to “Targeting Latinos in HIV Prevention Efforts”

  1. htamada2013 Says:

    I was not aware the fact that Latino has higher incidence of HIV infection in comparison with Caucasians. My question is whether this phenomenon is driven by typical socioeconomic status issue or any other factors such as culture or belief. According to CDC statistics (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialethnic/hispaniclatinos/facts/index.html), Latino MSM (Men Sex with Men) seems to have highest risk to get infected therefore I am still not sure community based approach is effective. How is the opportunity for high risk group approach?

  2. tflys Says:

    Very good questions! Due to the limit in length of our posts I couldn’t get into discussing those issues. As far as other factors, they definitely play a major role – these include self-awareness of risk, immigration status, culture, and isolation. Latinos tend to present late to care – once they are showing symptoms, possibly close to an AIDS diagnosis – reasons could be that they are scared to access testing services due to immigration status or lack of culturally-sensitive interventions. And you are right about Latino MSM having the highest risk. From discussions with an HIV physician here in Baltimore, she has many Latinos who present late to care and she believes Latino MSM are the most at risk. The Baltimore City Health Dept has a Latino HIV testing/outreach program that has increased testing quite a bit among Latinos, but they still don’t seem to find those that are infected – we believe it’s a hidden MSM population. Men having sex with men is not readily accepted among the Latino population due to views of machismo and familismo (responsibility to take care of a family) – so it is all a hidden network that we have to figure out how to reach. They are looking into possible cell phone text messaging interventions that could reach people without being obvious.

  3. klfranklin24 Says:

    I think having a NLAAD is great and as Bill Brieger mentioned in his lectures, a one time event that is well coordinated, planned and executed can have great impact in the community (it can also have adverse implications if not carried out well). Judging by the NLAAD website the event looks to be well organized and also provides information on a HIV/AIDS awareness day targeted for blacks, another minority population that has high HIV/AIDS rates. The National Latino/Hispanic HIV/AIDS Action Agenda pinpoints that high number of new cases of HIV is due to structural barriers to health and socioeconomic factors. A thought that comes to mind is whether such awareness days get at the root cause of the health issue which is primarily socioeconomic inequalities. I think that Johns Hopkins collaborating with local Baltimore community groups is very important so that Latinos/Hispanics can learn about possible programs to overcome barriers to access health care services (both preventative and for treatment). While looking into HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Baltimore, I came across the “Moving Forward- Baltimore City HIV/AIDS Strategy, 2011” report. In the report, Baltimore aims to cut new cases of HIV infection by 25% by 2015. (http://baltimorehealth.org/info/hiv/Moving%20Forward%20_%20Full%20Report.pdf) To reach this goal there is no doubt active community outreach by academic institutions, such as Johns Hopkins, will play an important role.

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