October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day -- CDC Study Looks at HIV/AIDS in U.S. Hispanic/Latino Population

Wednesday, October 15, is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. This observance presents an opportunity to increase awareness of the disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS within the Hispanic/Latino community.

As recently reported, updated HIV incidence data indicate that 18% of new HIV infections in the U.S. occur among Latinos -- who make up approximately 15% of the total population -- for an incidence rate of 29.3 per 100,000 persons (compared with 11.5 for whites and 83.7 for blacks). New prevalence figures show that a similar proportion of people living with HIV in the U.S. in 2006 (both new and long-term infections) were Latino/Hispanic.

"Latinos are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at a higher rate than every other racial or ethnic group in the United States except African-Americans," said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Anthony Fauci, MD. "To make progress in the battle against HIV/AIDS among Latinos, we need to overcome the barriers to early HIV testing and treatment."

"A recent study found that four of every 10 Latinos in the United States who test positive for HIV develop AIDS within a year of learning they are infected. That means a significant number of Latinos with HIV get tested late in the course of their disease, long after proper counseling and treatment should begin," he continued. "This is unacceptable in our country, where antiretroviral drugs for controlling HIV and prolonging life are widely available and best used earlier in the course of disease. A delay in getting tested or starting treatment also may increase the risk of spreading HIV, as untreated patients with high levels of the virus are more likely than treated patients to infect others."

To raise awareness, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Univision Communications have teamed up to launch a new ad campaign featuring personal stories of a diverse group of Latinos living with HIV/AIDS and the people who love them.

"I'm just hoping someone can look at me and say, 'Wow, she doesn't even look like she has HIV,'" said Damaries Cruz, who is HIV-positive and is featured in the campaign with her mother, Milagros Pagan. "And then, they'll see, if it can happen to me, it can happen to them."

The public service ads, available in television and radio formats, will refer listeners to Spanish-language HIV/AIDS information and resources available online through a dedicated website, www.univision.com (Uniclave: SIDA), and via a toll-free Spanish-language hotline (1-866-TU-SALUD).

For more information on National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, visit www.nlaad.org.

CDC Fact Sheet: HIV/AIDS among Hispanics/Latinos

HIV Infection among Hispanics

Lorena Espinoza and colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided a detailed look at the HIV epidemic among Hispanics/Latinos in the September 2008 Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

The investigators analyzed cases of HIV infection diagnosed among Hispanics in 33 states and U.S.-dependent areas during 2003-2006 and reported to the CDC through June 2007.

A major limitation of this analysis is that it includes only the 33 states and territories that have consistently reported HIV infections by name; all states have reported AIDS cases by name, but until recently, some did not do so for HIV infections. The areas included in the analysis account for an estimated 65% of all HIV/AIDS cases during this period, but because they include some states with a large Hispanic/Latino population and a high HIV/AIDS burden -- notably California -- they may underestimate the number of infected Hispanics.

Results

• HIV infection was diagnosed among 30,415 Hispanics during the study period.

• Among the 24,313 individuals with reported birthplace, 61% were born outside the continental U.S.

• During 2003-2006 in the 33 states, the annual rate of HIV diagnosis per 100,000 among Hispanics decreased significantly, from 37.0 in 2003 to 33.7 in 2006.

• The annual number of HIV diagnoses increased among Mexican-born males (estimated annual percent change +8.8%) and Central American-born males (+18.6%) and females (+24.6%), but decreased among U.S.-born Hispanic females (-8.2%).

• The HIV transmission categories for U.S.-born Hispanics were distributed as follows:

• male-to-male sexual contact: 50%;
• high-risk heterosexual contact: 26%;
• injection drug use: 18%;
• male-to-male sexual contact + injection drug use: 4%.

• There was a non-significant decrease in the number of diagnoses among male and females Hispanic injection drug users, but a significant increase among Hispanic males exposed through male-to-male sex.

• Among persons born in Puerto Rico, larger proportion were infected through high-risk heterosexual contact (40%) and injection drug use (33%) than through male-to-male sex (23%).

• In 2005, a total of 7561 cases of HIV infection were diagnosed among Hispanic adults and adolescents in the 33 areas, 42% of which progressed to AIDS in less than 12 months.

• A short HIV-to-AIDS interval was more common among Mexican-born Hispanics than among U.S.-born Hispanics.

• During 1996-2003, a total of 69,484 cases of AIDS were diagnosed among Hispanic adults and adolescents in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and dependent areas, accounting for 20% of all AIDS cases diagnosed during this period.

"[D]iagnosis trends, HIV-to-AIDS intervals, and survival of Hispanics with a diagnosis of HIV infection varied by place of birth," the study authors concluded. "These findings suggest that conceptualizing Hispanics as a homogeneous group may be inappropriate. HIV prevention efforts may not be equally effective for U.S.-born and foreign-born Hispanics; thus, educational efforts should address the important cultural and behavioral differences among Hispanic subgroups."

10/14/08

Sources

L Espinoza, HI Hall, R Selik, and others. Characteristics of HIV Infection among Hispanics, United States 2003-2006. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 49(1): 94-101. September 1, 2008. (Abstract).

Kaiser Family Foundation. The Kaiser Family Foundation and Univision Launch First National Spanish-Language Media Campaign Featuring HIV-Positive Latinos and Loved Ones. Press release. September 18, 2008.

National Institutes of Health. Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, MD, on National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. Press release. October 8, 2008.