Colorado: Fighting the Odds
May 16, 2007
HIV/AIDS rates have declined among white Colorado residents, but higher rates continue among African-Americans and Latinos. And while men who have sex with men still account for the majority of the state's diagnoses, infections among women are increasing. Health officials attribute the higher rates seen among minorities to factors including lack of awareness, denial of risk behaviors, homophobia, higher rates of substance dependence, and lack of health care access.
In 2006, 20.6 percent of new Colorado HIV cases were Latinos, down from 21.7 percent in 2004. But Latinos accounted for 28.2 percent of new AIDS diagnoses in 2006, up from 21.1 percent in 2004. African-American Coloradans represented 13.6 percent of new HIV cases in 2006, down from 19 percent in 2004. However, African Americans accounted for 20.1 percent of new AIDS cases, up from 18.4 percent in 2004. Latinos and African Americans comprise 19 percent and less than 5 percent of Colorado's population, respectively.
The Colorado Department of Health channels more than $3 million in state and federal funds to outreach programs. CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention directed $7.9 million to the state for HIV programs last year.
Lately, funds are being directed more toward culturally sensitive programs, said Imani Latif, executive director of It Takes a Village, an Aurora nonprofit doing outreach in the African-American community. "When we talk about cultural competence, we are talking about what it's like to walk in somebody's shoes." Over the years, Denver-based Sisters of Color has trained some 400 people to tell neighbors, church members, and friends about HIV.
05.14.07; Elizabeth Aguilera