WASHINGTON - The HIV epidemic is a serious threat to the Hispanic/Latino community. While Hispanics/ Latinos1 represented approximately 15% of the United States (US) population in 2006, they accounted for 17% of new HIV infections in the 50 states and the District of Columbia during that same year. The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanics/Latinos in 2006 was 2.5 times that of whites.
In 2006, Hispanic/Latino men made up three quarters (76%) of new infections among all Hispanics/Latinos. The rate of new infections among Hispanic/Latino men was more than double that of white men (43/100,000 vs. 20/100,000).
In 2006, Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men (MSM)3 represented 72% of new infections among all Hispanic/Latino men, and nearly 19% among all MSM. Among Hispanic/Latino MSM, 43% occurred in Hispanic/Latino MSM under age 30, and the remaining 57% occurred in Hispanic/Latino MSM aged 30 or older.
While Hispanic/Latino women represented a quarter (24%) of new infections among Hispanics/Latinos in 2006, their rate of HIV infection was nearly four times that of white women (14.4/100,000 vs. 3.8/100,000).
Estimated Rates of New HIV Infections,
by Race/Ethnicity and Gender, 2006
Source: CDC. Subpopulation Estimates from the HIV Incidence Surveillance System—United States, 2006. MMWR. 2008; 57(36):985–989.
At some point in life, 1 in 36 Hispanic/Latino men will be diagnosed with HIV, as will 1 in 106 Hispanic/Latina women.
In 2008, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for more than 19% of the 42,439 new diagnoses of HIV infection in the 37 states and 5 US dependent areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting.
In 2008, an estimated 7,864 Hispanics/ Latinos were diagnosed with AIDS in the US and dependent areas, which has remained relatively stable since 2005.
By the end of 2007, an estimated 106,074 Hispanics/Latinos with an AIDS diagnosis had died in the US and dependent areas. In 2007, HIV was the fifth leading cause of death among Hispanics/Latinos aged 35–44 and the sixth leading cause of death among Hispanics/Latinos aged 25–34 in the US.
A number of factors contribute to the HIV epidemic in Hispanic/Latino communities.
Behavioral risk factors for HIV infection differ by country of birth. Data suggest that Hispanic/Latino men born in Puerto Rico are more likely than other Hispanic/ Latino men to contract HIV as a result of injection drug use. By contrast, sexual contact with other men is the primary cause of HIV infections among Hispanic/ Latino men born in Central or South America, Cuba, Mexico, and the US.
Hispanics/Latinos are most likely to be infected with HIV as a result of sexual contact with men. Hispanic/Latina women may be unaware of their male partner’s risk factors or incorrectly assess them. In five different studies of US gay and bisexual men, Hispanics/Latinos were reported to have the highest rates of unprotected male-to-male sexual contact.
Injection drug use continues to be a risk factor for Hispanics/Latinos, particularly those living in Puerto Rico. Both casual and chronic substance users may be more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected sex, when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The presence of certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can significantly increase one’s chances of contracting HIV infection. A person who has both HIV infection and certain STDs has a greater chance of infecting others with HIV. The rates of STDs remain high among Hispanics/Latinos.
Cultural factors may affect the risk of HIV infection. Some Hispanics/ Latinos may avoid seeking testing, counseling, or treatment if infected out of fear of discrimination. The stigma around homosexuality adds to prevention challenges (e.g., traditional gender roles and cultural norms such as “machismo” contribute to the perception of Hispanic/ Latino gay men as “failed men”).
Greater acculturation into the US culture has both negative (engaging in behaviors that increase the risk for HIV infection) and positive (communicating with partners about practicing safer sex) effects on the health behaviors of Hispanics/Latinos.
Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, migration patterns, social structures, or language barriers add to Hispanic/ Latino HIV infection rates. Problems associated with socioeconomics include unemployment, transience, a lack of formal education, immigration status, inadequate health insurance, and limited access to quality health care.
What CDC Is Doing
In recent years, CDC has supported research studies to develop new effective behavioral interventions and to adapt existing interventions for Hispanic/Latino populations. CDC also supports the national dissemination of effective HIV behavioral interventions for Hispanics/Latinos. These interventions, in various stages of development and dissemination, include Connect (Connectémonos); ¡Cuídate!; Modelo de Intervención Psicomédica (MIP); Project AIM; Project FIO; and Salud, Educacion, Prevencion y Autocuidado (SEPA).
CDC has also initiated new projects and included language in funding opportunity announcements to expand the HIV prevention services currently available to Hispanics/Latinos. CDC funds states, territories, and community-based organizations (CBOs) within the US, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands to provide HIV prevention services to high-risk populations including Hispanics/Latinos.
In 2009, as part of CDC’s Act Against AIDS campaign, CDC launched the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a $9 million, five-year partnership to increase HIV-related awareness, knowledge, and action in minority communities across the US. In 2010, CDC expanded AAALI to include three organizations that focus on Hispanic/Latino populations. Also in 2010, CDC placed Spanish Act Against AIDS campaign messages on billboards and bus shelters in predominant Hispanic/ Latino neighborhoods in six cities, as well as Spanish dioramas in five airports. CDC also distributed Spanish Act Against AIDS television public service announcements to Univision, Telemundo, TeleFutura, and NBC en Español television networks and their affiliate stations in 34 markets.