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Rising number of HIV/AIDS cases for Latinos as national awareness day approaches

Americans will recognize National Latino AIDS Awareness Day this Saturday, amid a rising number of HIV/AIDS cases for Latinos across the U.S.

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD), “held each year in commemoration of the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, represents a call to action for Hispanics/Latinos to protect their lives and the lives of those they love by getting tested and learning about HIV.”

According to a report (.pdf) issued by the Florida Latino AIDS Advisory Group in May, “the proportion of newly reported HIV cases among adult Hispanics (age 13+) increased from 16% in 2000 to 21% in 2009. In Florida, in 2009, the HIV case rate among adult Hispanic men was 2 times higher than that for white men and 2 times higher for adult Hispanic women than that among white women.”

The Advisory Group, established by Florida’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS, adds that “the survival time from AIDS diagnosis to death significantly shorter for Hispanics than whites. Of the AIDS cases that died in Florida from 2001-2009, whites had a median survival of 63 months compared with blacks who had 44 months and Hispanics who had 47 months.

The AIDS Institute, with offices in Tampa, reports that while Latinos represent 16 percent of the U.S. population, they represented 20 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009, adding that “the rate of HIV infection in 2009 among this population was three times as high as that of whites.”

Daniel Montoya, deputy executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council, said in a written statement that “the health disparities that persist within the Latino community, especially in relation to HIV and AIDS, demand immediate attention.”

Montoya added: “Latinos face significant barriers to accessing quality health care and prevention services, including socio-economic, cultural and linguistic challenges. These barriers are often intensified among undocumented populations.”

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