HIV/AIDS and Latinos
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 17% of new AIDS diagnoses in the United States. The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanics/Latinos is 2.5 times that of whites. 1
AIDS is the third leading cause of death for Latinos ages 35 to 44 and the fourth leading cause of death among Latino women in the same age group. Yet despite these alarming statistics, a recent NIAID survey found that only 11 percent of Latinos cited HIV/AIDS as the most urgent current health problem.2
Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and injection drug users continue to
be at a high risk for HIV. However,
many Hispanic/Latino MSM identify themselves as heterosexual and, as a result,
may not relate to prevention messages crafted for gay men.3
Heterosexual contact is the primary mode of transmission for Hispanic/Latina women.4
Underlying conditions such as language or cultural barriers, higher rates of poverty
and substance abuse, and limited access to, or use of,
health care may lead to delays in seeking treatment which
may contribute to the high numbers of AIDS-related
Low health insurance levels worsen the problem, with 24 percent of Latino HIV patients being uninsured. Another 50 percent rely on Medicaid. Only 23 percent of Latino patients were privately insured. Partly due to the lack of insurance, Latino HIV patients are in danger of receiving inferior medical care.
Studies have shown that Hispanics are more
likely to be tested for HIV late in their illness, and that by
the time Hispanics test for HIV, they are more likely to be
diagnosed with AIDS.5
Why do we need a HIV preventive vaccine?
- There is NO cure for AIDS. While the availability of
anti-retroviral therapy has had a dramatic impact on
decreasing AIDS-related deaths in this country, these
treatment regimens are complex, costly and in many
cases can cause serious side effects. In addition, the
development of drug resistance is common.
- Developing safe, effective and affordable vaccines that can
prevent HIV infection in uninfected people is the best
hope for controlling and/or ending the AIDS epidemic.
- The long-term goal is to develop a vaccine that is 100
percent effective and protects everyone from getting
infected with HIV. However, even if a vaccine only
protects some people, it could still have a major impact
on the rates of transmission and help in controlling the
epidemic. A partially effective vaccine could decrease the
number of people who get infected with HIV, further
reducing the number of people who can pass the virus on
- Like smallpox and polio vaccines, a HIV preventive
vaccine could help save millions of lives.
- An HIV vaccine may also be beneficial for HIV-infected
individuals by helping to delay the onset of AIDS or
slowing disease progression. These types of vaccines are
referred to as "therapeutic" vaccines. It is not known if a
HIV preventive vaccine will have a therapeutic benefit in
HIV-infected individuals. This would require additional
clinical trials in those populations.