The Hispanic community is one of the largest ethnic groups living in the United States and HIV is a serious health threat to them. The factors involved in this epidemic are as diverse as the Latino population in the country. Although there are preventive measures observed to control the level of HIV infections among the Hispanics, their community continues to suffer from the serious illness at an alarming rate.
Overview of the Situation
- Hispanics make up around 17 percent of the entire U.S. population. Unfortunately, they make up 20 percent of the people who are suffering from the disease and an estimate of 21 percent of the individuals who have just been infected.
- On an estimate, there will be at least 1 out of 50 Hispanics that will be infected by HIV during their lifetime.
- Hispanic men have a higher percentage of being infected than Hispanic women.
- The percentage level of HIV carriers among Hispanic men is three times higher than that of white men. Gay and bisexual men are most likely to be infected by the disease.
- The percentage level of HIV carriers among Hispanic women is four time higher than white women.
- Numerous Hispanic men and women are continuously dying from HIV and AIDS. Since the beginning of the infectious disease, there are about 100,000 Hispanics who have died.
Complex Factors that Increase the Risk of HIV/AIDS
- Social and Economic Factors – poverty, discrimination, language barrier and improper healthcare are just some of the factors that increase the risk of HIV among the Hispanic community.
- Stigma – the stigma that is relative to HIV and homosexuality can also increase the risk of the disease. Some families where the cultural value of machismo is highly observed, sensitive issues such as male-to-male intercourse and substance abuse are not discussed also contribute to the risk of spreading HIV. This may hinder the Latinos from seeking medical help and testing when they need to.
- Cultural factors – since the Hispanic population is very diverse, their cultural practices in the U.S. also vary. They have varying behavioral risk factors for HIV. Hispanics who are Puerto Rican in origin are more likely to get infected with the disease than any other Hispanic tribe.
How to Protect Yourself Against HIV
- Get the facts – get to know helpful information about the disease. Learn how the infection spreads, if you are at risk, how to protect yourself, etc.
- Take control – once you are well-informed about the disease, you can better protect yourself and your loved ones. These are the three important ways that can help you reduce the risk:
- Don’t have sex
- Only have sex if you’re in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone you are sure who is not infected
- Don’t forget to use protection when engaging in sexual activities
- Put yourself to the test – get to know your status with regards to this illness. Have your self tested to know if you are infected as this can help prevent HIV from spreading.