FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MEDIA CONTACT: OSCAR RAUL LOPEZ
New Alarming Figures – Latinos reported to be 18% of those living with undiagnosed HIV infection.
NEW YORK, NY – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2009 – The Latino Commission on AIDS (Commission) acknowledges the hard work and dedication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the fight against HIV/AIDS but challenges that there is much more that needs to be done. Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. represent 15.3% (U.S. Census Bureau) of the population but account for 19.0% of people living with AIDS and now are reported to be 18.0 % of those living with an undiagnosed HIV infection.
New analysis released by the CDC tales a closer look at the problem of undiagnosed HIV infection in the United States by examining the estimated proportion of HIV-positive Americans who are undiagnosed across racial/ethnic populations, risk and age groups and finds significant gaps in knowledge of infection across populations, with the greatest gaps in knowledge among racial/ethnic minorities and men who have sex with men (MSM).
Further, the study finds among those living with HIV, African Americans and Latinos were less likely to be diagnosed compared to their white counterparts (22.2% of blacks and 21.6% of Hispanics living with HIV were undiagnosed, vs. 18.8% of whites). Because of the substantially greater burden of HIV infection among racial/ethnic minorities, the rate for Hispanics (126.4 per 100,000 population) was nearly three times that among whites. With Hispanics accounting for an estimated 18.0% (41,900) of individuals living with undiagnosed infection. To further complicate matters, while all state and local health departments (including the District of Columbia, and 5 U.S. dependent areas) report HIV and AIDS diagnoses to the CDC, only 34 states that have been conducting name-based HIV surveillance for at least four years are included in the estimates for HIV cases (to allow for reporting adjustments and stabilization of the data) and these figures do not reflect the true magnitude of the epidemic. Currently states/areas like California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico with large Latino populations are not included in the surveillance data, which means that while HIV Latino statistics are alarmingly high, they could actually be higher. In 2007 the rate of reported AIDS cases for all groups in the U.S. was 12.4 per 100,000 people, but in Puerto Rico the rate was 21.5. The Commission encourages the CDC to continue improving their surveillance reporting by including available HIV/AIDS data from Puerto Rico and the sixteen missing states to get a more accurate accounting of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S.
Today’s CDC analysis adds to an already substantial body of data showing the tremendous toll that HIV/AIDS takes on African American and Latino communities. Guillermo Chacon, Vice-President at the Latino Commission on AIDS stated, “This data clearly shows that levels of HIV infection in the U.S. are too high and we can’t allow the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country to continue at this rate. We as a community and as a country need to make HIV a priority.”
In terms of the total burden of AIDS cases, men who have sex with men (MSM) are the group with highest prevalence rate in the general population and also in the Latino community, where they represent 47% of known AIDS cases. In terms of undiagnosed infection, MSM account for substantially greater numbers of individuals unaware of their status, at 53.7% (124,900 individuals), more than any other transmission category. This data suggests that expanded HIV testing among MSM remains critical to further reductions in HIV infection in the U.S. and is especially true within the Latino community where homosexuality and same sex behavior carries almost as much stigma as AIDS. Many persons at risk are not being reached by HIV prevention efforts. This illustrates some of the myriad challenges to preventing the spread of this disease, including reaching various generations, adapting to the evolving epidemic, and sustaining efforts for at-risk persons and those living with HIV as they age.
As the number of people living with HIV continues to increase, reaching individuals at risk for HIV with culturally competent and linguistically appropriate prevention education, HIV testing and treatment is critical. Testing is the essential first step in linking people with HIV to medical care and ongoing support to help them establish and maintain safer behaviors. A substantial proportion of new infections in the U.S. are believed to be transmitted by those who are unaware of their HIV status, but studies also show that once people learn they are HIV positive, most take steps to protect their partners. Additionally, data suggests that many people with HIV are diagnosed late in the course of their infection, when it may be too late to fully benefit from life-extending treatments. 2007 CDC data shows Latinos progress to AIDS faster than any other ethnic group with 41% being diagnosed with AIDS within 12 months after learning of their positive HIV status compared to 34% late diagnosis among whites and 35% among Blacks.
The Commission encourages everyone to get tested for HIV. It is important to promote that HIV testing should become a routine part of health screening. Nationally you can obtain more information about HIV testing or find a testing location near you at: www.hivtest.org and in New York City you can obtain bilingual HIV testing information at 212-584-9325. The New York State counseling hotline for the deaf and hearing impaired is (800) 369-2437 TDD.
The link to the CDC media release on Undiagnosed HIV Infection in the U.S can be found at: http://www.hivandhepatitis.com/2009icr/croi/docs/021709_ff.html
The link to the CDC 2007 Cases of HIV Infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/reports/2007report/default.htm
The Latino Commission on AIDS is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1990 dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in Latino/Hispanic communities. The Commission is the leading national Latino AIDS organization and works in more than 40 States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. For more information visit www.latinoaids.org.
UNIDOS PODEMOS/UNITED WE CAN