Florida: HIV Rate Among Local Hispanics Alarms Experts
September 21, 2005
New HIV infections among Hispanic adults in the Central Florida counties of Brevard, Osceola, Orange, and Seminole increased by 19 percent from 1999 to 2004, compared with an 8 percent increase among whites, and a 26 percent dip among blacks. Among the region's women, only Hispanics had an annual increase from 1999 levels.
Statewide, Hispanics and whites experienced 32 percent and 25 percent increases respectively in new infections in the five-year period. While blacks -- who account for most Central Florida HIV cases -- and Hispanics together constitute less than 30 percent of Central Florida's population, they comprise about 61 percent of its HIV cases.
Last month, Orange County health officials met with health experts and community organizations to discuss the rise in Hispanic HIV infections and alert the community. Fifteen Central Florida groups joined the Café Latino coalition, a fledgling, unfunded umbrella network. There is a lack of basic HIV prevention information in the region's Hispanic community and lack of communication among those agencies working with the community, said Ruby Marentes, a project coordinator with the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Association, which led the meeting.
In Central Florida, new HIV infections increased by 40 percent among Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM) from 1999 to 2004. Statewide, the increase in Hispanic MSM infections from 1999 to 2004 was 49 percent. Yet even as the region's total Hispanic population grew by 24 percent from 2000 to 2003, new HIV cases among the population were up by only 12 percent in the period.
"There is stigma," said Ana Rua Dobles, a nurse for Hug Me, a clinic helping HIV-positive mothers. "There's the lack of communication. Sex and diseases are not talked about openly in the Hispanic community. Partners are not asking the right questions, and sometimes the messages are not culturally applicable. You look at a billboard and you see someone who is African-American, or a white gay man, and you think, 'That's their problem.'"
09.14.05; Victor Manuel Ramos
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.