Multiple Barriers Prevent Minorities' Early Treatment: AIDS Stigma, Lack of Transportation Top List
November 20, 2003
Recent US HIV/AIDS statistics from CDC show the virus is the leading cause of death for African Americans ages 25-44 and the third leading cause of death for African Americans and Latinos ages 35-44. A recent CDC study at 16 sites found that African Americans and Latinos were more likely to be tested late for HIV than whites. Previous research has shown that HIV-infected African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be uninsured, to have not received antiretroviral drugs, to lack transportation for visiting doctors, and to have had recent hospitalizations.
The findings suggest that HIV prevention efforts targeting minority communities have infrastructure obstacles to overcome. AIDS activists point as well to social and cultural barriers to adequate HIV care among communities of color.
In small rural communities, people are often reluctant to be tested for HIV because they fear their neighbors will learn if they are HIV-positive. Even when federal and state funding are available for treatment, some African Americans are unwilling to submit to HIV treatment due to skepticism about the government and case managers, said Darryl Cannady of South Central Educational Development in Bluefield, W.Va.
Malik Blackmon, with Arkansas HIV/AIDS Task Force in Little Rock, said minority rural populations are often not aware they are at risk. "Engaging in sex, period, is a risk these days," he stated. "We need advertisements that target African Americans with a stronger message."
In San Diego, AIDS groups have witnessed a trend of poor, marginalized minority people coming very late into HIV treatment. Julio Mauricio of Pacto Latino AIDS Organization (PACT) said migrant Latino workers sometimes die of AIDS before they can start HIV antiretrovirals.
Because people in minority communities may be ignorant of their HIV risk or afraid of being stigmatized, HIV-positive outreach workers can have a big impact, according to Tony Dorsey of Fighting AIDS in our Community Today (FACT) in Las Vegas. "The idea is to get someone out to partner with these people once they are identified as HIV-positive," Dorsey said. "We hold their hands and give them compassion and concern about what they have to go through."
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.