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Latino AIDS cases on the rise in Southern California

Latino AIDS cases on the rise in Southern California

Although whites still account for the majority of Los Angeles County AIDS cases, Latinos now make up more new AIDS diagnoses in the county than any other racial group, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Latinos account for about 43% of all new AIDS cases in the county as of 2003, while accounting for about one third of all people in the county with AIDS, according to county health officials. Data also show that Latinos tend to be diagnosed with HIV infection at a much later stage of the disease than members of other ethnic groups, limiting the ability of antiretroviral drugs to keep HIV in check before significant immune system damage occurs. "The stigma continues to contribute to the fact that the community doesn't own up to this," Oscar De La O, president and CEO of AIDS service organization Bienestar, told the Daily News. "Countering the effects of stigma requires families to be aware of the realities of HIV/AIDS." The situation is poised to worsen, health officials say. The HIV infection rate among Los Angeles County Latinos could rise more than 30% by 2015 unless new HIV prevention campaigns are initiated, according to county AIDS experts.

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