The HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Latinos & Hispanics in the United States and How the Faith Community Can Help
The United States has a large and growing Hispanic population that is heavily affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Latinos represent one-fifth of the population estimated to be living with AIDS in the United States, including U.S. territories.
Latinos Are Disproportionately Impacted by HIV/AIDS
Latinos are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. In 2001, Latinos represented 13.4 percent of the U.S. population, but they accounted for 20 percent of the total number of reported U.S. AIDS cases.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, 155,722 adult/adolescent Hispanics have been diagnosed and reported with AIDS in the United States, based on data available through December 2002. In 2002, the estimated rate of AIDS among Hispanics was approximately three times higher for adult men and five times higher for adult women compared to white non-Hispanics.
HIV/AIDS is a Leading Cause of Death for Latinos
HIV/AIDS remains a leading cause of death for Latinos in the United States. Within the Latino population, men are being hit the hardest. In 2001, HIV/AIDS was the third leading cause of death for Latino men between the ages of 35 and 44, compared to the fifth leading cause of death for white men in this age group. It was the fourth leading cause of death for Latinas ages 35–44, compared to the ninth leading cause for white women in this age group.
Locations Where Hispanics Are Hardest Hit by HIV/AIDS
Approximately 57 percent of the estimated 71,360 Hispanics living with AIDS in 2001 lived in 10 cities. New York and Pennsylvania are the states with the highest rate of AIDS for Hispanics in the United States. The chart below shows the top 10 cities for AIDS among Hispanics:
Top 10 cities with the highest number of Hispanic adults/adolescents living with AIDS at the end of 2001 (by total number and percentage of Hispanics with AIDS in the city's total AIDS population):
|New York, NY
|Los Angeles, CA||6,169||36.9%|
|San Juan, PR||6,137||99.7%|
|San Francisco, CA||1,283||13.5%|
|San Diego, CA||1,266||25.7%|
Top 5 states/territories with the highest number of Hispanics living with AIDS at the end of 2001 (by total number and percentage of Hispanics with AIDS in the state's total AIDS population):
Latino Exposure to HIV/AIDS
How Are Latino Men and Women Contracting HIV?
How Are Latino Men and Women Contracting HIV?
- At least 37 percent of Latinas who contracted HIV in 2002 were exposed to it through heterosexual contact, and 15 percent from injection drug use.
At least 42 percent of Latino males who acquired HIV in 2002 were infected through having sex with men, 13 percent from injection drug use, and 7 percent from heterosexual contact.
Hispanics in the United States include a diverse mixture of ethnic groups and cultures. HIV exposure risks for U.S.-born Hispanics and Hispanics born in other countries vary greatly, indicating a need for specifically targeted prevention efforts. "One size does not fit all" when trying to present HIV/AIDS prevention messages to the Latino community.
Many Latinos Are Concerned About HIV/AIDS
A recent study shows that two times more Latinos than whites believe HIV/AIDS is the country's most urgent health concern today. One-third more Latinos than whites feel that HIV/AIDS is a more urgent problem for the country today than it was a few years ago. Twice as many Latinos than whites have had HIV/AIDS affect someone they know.
How the Latino Faith Community Can Support HIV/AIDS Prevention Efforts
Latino faith organizations can play an important role in providing a foundation of hope, strength, and unity in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
We Can Help By:
- Preaching abstinence for prevention, and fidelity in the case of married couples. HIV transmission is 100-percent preventable through abstinence.
- Promoting self-esteem to help prevent self-destructive behaviors that put people in risky situations for contracting HIV.
- Providing education on HIV/AIDS at the parish and church school levels.
- Providing basic health services and spiritual support to people living with HIV/AIDS.
- Directing members of our parishes to places where they can be tested for HIV infection.
- Planning a faith conference, town hall meeting or workshop about the impact of HIV/AIDS on our parishes and communities.
- Planning a prayer vigil to remember those who have died from AIDS and for those still fighting HIV/AIDS.
- Organizing parish ministry visits to people with HIV/AIDS in hospitals, in nursing homes, or at their homes.
- Organizing a parish or community event for annual national HIV/AIDS observances such as World AIDS Day on December 1 or National HIV Testing Day on June 27.
- Educating to fight stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS.