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HIV infection
rates rising among U.S. Hispanics

HIV infection
rates rising among U.S. Hispanics

Health experts say an HIV crisis is under way in the Hispanic community, where social stigma, poverty, language barriers, and fear of deportation deter testing and increase the infection rate, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In Michigan, Hispanics have the second highest HIV infection rate, only after African-Americans. The state health department estimates that there are at least 600 Hispanics infected statewide. In Wayne County alone, at least 154 Hispanics have HIV, mainly in southwest Detroit.

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, although Hispanics make up about 12% of the U.S. population, they account for 17% of HIV cases. The CDC said that Hispanics are also more likely to develop AIDS within a year of their HIV diagnosis because they are more likely to delay treatment, so they die sooner--within 18 months of diagnosis, the Free Press reported.

Edgardo Nieves of AIDS Partnership Michigan in Detroit said a large portion of the Hispanic population speaks only Spanish, while many HIV/AIDS TV public-service announcements and printed prevention materials are in English, creating more problems for the community in terms of prevention.

Alicia Villarreal of Detroit's Latino Family Services said her group is targeting beauty shops with information on testing and prevention. She said more Hispanics are now aware of and acknowledge risky sexual behavior, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Reverend Louis Martinez opened his Christ to the Nations Church to the organization Gospel Against AIDS last month. It was the first time GAA founder Rosalind Worthy directed her HIV/AIDS prevention message to Hispanics. The GAA holds information sessions in African-American churches, state correctional facilities, and other organizations throughout Michigan. (The Advocate)

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