>Latinos latest group afflicted with AIDS crisis

>I found this article while surfing the net on MSNBC. It documents the rise in HIV/AIDS in America’s fastest-growing minority population:

Though Hispanics make up about 14 percent of the U.S. population, they represented 22 percent of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses tallied by federal officials in 2006. According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Hispanics in the District have the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the country.

The article states that the rise in AIDS among Latinos has been overshadowed by the rise in infections among white gay men and African-Americans:

Yet in major U.S. cities, as many as 1 in 4 gay Hispanic men has HIV, a rate on par with sub-Saharan Africa. Blacks still have the highest HIV rates in the country, but language difficulties, cultural barriers and, in many cases, issues of legal status make the threat in the Hispanic community unique. For those who arrived illegally, in particular, fear of arrest and deportation presents a daunting obstacle to seeking diagnosis and treatment.

Public health officials are trying to break down economic and language barriers to reach out to Latinos who may be at risk:

At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where only two of 17 approved HIV programs target Hispanic Americans, officials have added Spanish-language hotlines, confidential testing sites and other initiatives aimed at filling the gap.

You get the gist of the article. It’s amazing how cultural, racial and economic issues continue to play a role in people seeking diagnosis and treatment when it comes to HIV and AIDS. Instead of educating and cultivating knowledge, we shun those who ask want to ask questions, who want to know how to protect themselves and others and who want to be aware of what’s facing our public health system.

We also make it harder for people to even seek help. Just look at local drug stores and pharmacies–condoms are hidden; pregnancy tests are tucked away in the corner of the stores. You almost have to state why you’re at the store just to have access to these items.

Until we are able to arm people with all the mechanisms they need to defend themselves, the HIV/AIDS crisis will continue to swell and threaten our society.

Oh, and on a lighter note, don’t forget to watch CNN’s Black in America tonight and Thursday night at 9 p.m.!