New York: Reaching Out to Educate African Immigrants
February 28, 2006
African immigrants in New York City have a slightly higher HIV/AIDS rate than the population as a whole, and to meet the needs of this growing community, a Harlem-based nonprofit sends multilingual educators out to help spread the word about the disease.
Though the language barrier is the primary challenge -- most of the immigrants speak French -- different cultural mores and beliefs about sex can inhibit discussions about HIV/AIDS, said Catharine Bufalino, spokesperson for the 25-year-old African Services Committee. "The majority of our staff are African immigrants themselves, so they have the cultural sensitivity to be able to provide the proper interaction," she said.
However, African immigrants are just a small part of the overall picture of HIV/AIDS in New York City. A state health report released late last year showed that 80,145 New Yorkers were living with the disease as of June 2004.
Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately represented in the total number of people with HIV/AIDS in New York City. Blacks comprised 27 percent of the city's population in 2004, but accounted for 45 percent of HIV/AIDS cases. Hispanics make up 28 percent of the population of New York but 32 percent of the city's HIV/AIDS cases.
While 28 percent of the city's HIV cases are attributed to unprotected sex among men, the rate was higher among new infections in the six months leading up to June 2004. In that category, 33 percent were contracted by men who have sex with men.
Newsday (New York)
02.19.06; Katie Thomas