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Latino Commission on AIDS Project Focuses on HIV/AIDS Among Hispanic Immigrants in Deep South

May 9, 2008

NPR's "Tell Me More" on Wednesday included a discussion with Tim Frasca of the Latino Commission on AIDS about the organization's Deep South Project. The project aims to develop strategies to address HIV/AIDS among Hispanics in Mississippi and six other Southern states with rapidly growing populations of new immigrants, Frasca, program coordinator for the project, said.

The rapid influx of Hispanic immigrants to the region has created a need for local organizations to address HIV/AIDS in "areas where infrastructure was not previously available," Frasca said. For example, the number of foreign-born residents in Mississippi has doubled since 2000, with half estimated to be Hispanic, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Hispanic communities in the targeted states "are very different from what you will find in California, Texas or Florida," Frasca said.

Another challenge facing Southern states is a shortage of comprehensive data on the number of HIV cases among Hispanic immigrants. Any population data collected in Gulf Coast states prior to Hurricane Katrina are "completely out of date," Frasca said, adding that officials estimate that 3% of new cases in Mississippi occur among Hispanics. In North Carolina, more than 8% of new cases occur among Hispanics, which is "thought to be already substantially higher than the proportion of [Hispanics] in the state," he said (Martin, "Tell Me More," NPR, 5/7).

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