October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day; CDC Finds Rise in HIV Among Latino Gay Men

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October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day(NLAAD), an opportunity to call attention to the continued threat HIV poses to Latino and Hispanic people in the U.S. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the overall rate of HIV infection among Latinos has dropped in recent years, there has been a sharp increase among Latino gay and bisexual men. 

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According to the CDC, Latino and Hispanic people account for about 20% of all new HIV infections in the U.S. (while making up 17% of the total population) and are nearly 3 times more likely to become infected than non-Hispanic white people. About 80% of these newly infected people were Latino men who have sex with men, and within that group a majority were young men.

As described in the October 9 edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC researchers analyzed data on new HIV diagnoses reported to the National HIV Surveillance System during 2008-2013.

The overall HIV diagnosis rate declined among Latino adolescents and adults during this period, from 28.3 to 24.3 per 100,000 population. Decreases were seen for both men and women, and rates decreased or remained stable in all age groups. The largest decline was seen among people who inject drugs.

However, the number of new diagnoses among Latino gay and bi men increased by 16% -- from 6141 to 7098. This increase may be due to increased incidence, an increase in HIV testing among gay and bi Latino men, or a combination of both, the researchers noted.

HIV risk factors among Latinos differed depending on place of birth. Overall, about 43% of Latinos who received an HIV diagnosis were not born in the U.S. or Puerto Rico. Latino men born in Puerto Rico, and Latina women born in Puerto Rico or the U.S., were more likely to be infected through sharing drug injection equipment compared to those born elsewhere.

But regardless of place of birth, sex between men accounted for the majority of new infections among Latino men, ranging from 54% among men born in Puerto Rico -- only recently surpassing injection drug use -- to 86% among those born in South America.

Such differences, the researchers said, underline the importance of tailored HIV prevention strategies that recognize the diversity of Latino communities.

"The large proportion of HIV diagnoses in the United States among Hispanics or Latinos who are immigrants is important to consider when developing HIV prevention interventions, given that approximately 40% of Hispanic or Latino immigrants do not speak English well or at all and because certain socioeconomic factors, such as limited access to health care, lack of health insurance, and poverty, might be at play," they wrote.

10/14/15

References

K Mahle Gray, EE Valverde, T Tang et al. Diagnoses and Prevalence of HIV Infection Among Hispanics or Latinos -- United States, 2008-2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 64(39):1097-1103. October 9, 2015.

CDC. HIV Among Latinos. Updated July 8, 2015.