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National News

AIDS Risk for Latinas Climbs Still

December 5, 2002

While the number of new US AIDS cases has been declining since the mid-1990s, the proportion of new cases that occur among Latino women is rising. Their risk is significantly higher than that of white women, though much lower than that of African-American women. In 2001, women made up 23 percent -- 1,894 people -- of new Latino AIDS cases in the United States, up from 15 percent -- 730 people -- in 1990, the CDC reported.

In 2000, AIDS was the fourth-leading cause of death for Latinas ages 35 to 44 in the United States, compared with the ninth-leading cause for white women, according to the CDC. Latinas constitute about 13 percent of the female population of the United States, but accounted for 21 percent of all female AIDS deaths since 1981. Of the 67,557 women who have died of AIDS, 14,236 have been Hispanic.

Many of these Latinas are middle-aged and were infected by husbands or boyfriends who are bisexual or intravenous drug users. "Poverty, traditional gender-role beliefs, sexual coercion, sexual abuse, and difficulties talking about sex may all contribute to these findings," said Barbara Marin, guest researcher at the CDC. The CDC estimates that Latinas represent 18 percent of new HIV infections among women in the United States.

In New Jersey, women age 35 and older made up 45 percent of Latina HIV cases during 1996-2000. A California study among Latinas found only 41 percent had ever used a condom. "In Latino culture, a woman that asks for safe sex can be considered a loose woman," said Cynthia Gomez, codirector for the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California-San Francisco.

In North Philadelphia, an area where many Hispanics live, counselors go to nightclubs to distribute condoms and offer saliva testing for HIV. They also visit Hispanics working at mushroom farms in Kennett Square, Chester County. In New Jersey, programs offer day care for children so their HIV-infected mothers can see the doctor.

Back to other CDC news for December 5, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Philadelphia Inquirer
12.02.02; Marina Walker

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
HIV & Me: A Guide to Living With HIV for Hispanics
The Body en Español
More HIV Statistics on the U.S. Latino Community