Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More Latina immigrants are being infected with HIV/AIDS, often by husbands or boyfriends

Anna Gorman:

The number of illegal Mexican and Central American immigrants with HIV or AIDS is unknown, in part because researchers rarely ask about immigration status.

But studies of Latinas in general indicate that more and more are being infected with HIV, often by husbands or boyfriends secretly using injection drugs or having sex with other men.

"Latina women are not aware of what their sex partners are involved in," said Juan Ruiz, chief of HIV/AIDS Epidemiology for California's Office of AIDS.

The rate of HIV infection among Latinas in California is about twice the rate among white women. Most are infected by heterosexual partners, according to the Office of AIDS.

Much attention has been paid in recent years to the plight of black women, who make up the largest percentage of women in the state with HIV and AIDS. But Latinas are not far behind. At the end of June 2005, about 30% of all women with HIV were Latina, compared with 36% African American.

Like many black women, Latinas often do not discover they are HIV-positive until they or their partners become ill, so they fail to benefit from early treatment.

Once their condition is diagnosed, Latinas often keep it a secret — even from their own families.

"They don't know how to tell their children," said Evelyn Renderos, who works at the AIDS Service Center in Pasadena. "They don't talk about it."

Among immigrants, the disease often is not well understood and carries a huge stigma, in part because of religious and cultural views on homosexuality, and limited sex education.

Even when Latinas suspect their husbands or boyfriends of drug use or unfaithfulness, researchers say, they often don't ask questions. Many defer to their mates or are dependent, emotionally or economically, on them.

"When you can't imagine being on your own, you are more likely to justify or put up with or ignore behaviors," said Britt Rios-Ellis, director of the Center for Latino Community Health at Cal State Long Beach.

HIV/AIDS among Hispanics



At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the same neck of the woods - red haired people are even more specific regionally, now (ie prior to travel) found in the Celtic hinterlands of Scotland, Wales, Ireland)but before stretching to the Danube.


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