- WASHINGTON (www.nando.net) -- With a rate of infection 50 percent greater
than their numbers in the population, half of all Hispanics in a new survey
feel AIDS is the nation's most urgent health problem.
- Even though new anti-viral drugs have
succeeded in cutting the death rate among people infected with HIV dramatically,
they do not eliminate the infection entirely, and concern about the disease
remains high in the most vulnerable populations.
- The HIV infection rate for Hispanic males
is three times that of non-Hispanic whites; among women, the rate is six
times as great. And, along with blacks, for whom the per-capita infection
rate is even higher, the decline in death rates has not accelerated as
much for Hispanics as for whites.
- "At a time when public perception
moves in the direction of viewing HIV/AIDS as a manageable disease, Hispanic
communities continue to be devastated by this epidemic," said Jane
Delgado, president of the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human
- More than 109,000 Hispanics have been
diagnosed with the infection, a new report released by the coalition says,
and more than 61,000 have died, since data on the disease was first collected
- A national conference of Hispanic leaders
is meeting at Harvard University starting this weekend to discuss new and
better ways of responding to the epidemic in their communities.
- The survey, released Friday and conducted
nationwide by phone in English and Spanish for the Kaiser Family Foundation,
found much greater levels of worry about AIDS among Hispanics than in a
general sample of all Americans. For instance, 46 percent of Latinos said
they are "very worried" about becoming infected with HIV, a level
of concern shared by just 24 percent of all Americans.
- Most Hispanics have a good understanding
of AIDS, with 98 percent of the adults surveyed aware that the virus is
sexually-transmitted, and 92 percent knowing that a pregnant woman can
pass the infection to her baby. But just 77 percent knew there is no cure,
and just 68 percent responded correctly that there is no vaccine against
- Delgado noted that prevention strategies
and educational approaches have to be tailored to address particular pathways
of infection that are more or less prominent in different communities.
For instance, most Hispanics in the northeastern states infected with HIV
got the virus through intravenous drug use, while men having sex with men
is the predominant infection cause among Hispanics in Florida, California,
and the Southwest.
- Dr. Sophia Chang, director of HIV Programs
for the Kaiser Foundation, said "even those who are most knowledgeable
about AIDS say there are areas they want to know more about, such as how
to talk about this disease with children (70 percent) and with partners
(51 percent) and where to go for testing and treatment if they are exposed."
- Forty-one percent said they want more
information about how to properly use condoms.
- "These are very personal behaviors
that we're discussing, and we have to be able to adapt material in a way
that people are able to hear," Delgado said. "There's room for
more action at all levels."