Be in the Know: HIV & Communities of Color
September 27, 2013 by Noël Gordon, Senior Specialist for HIV Prevention and Health Equity
Did you know HIV has a disproportionately high impact on the African American and Latino communities? According to the Centers for Disease Control:
African Americans have the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Compared with other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease—from new infections to deaths.
The HIV epidemic is also a serious public health issue in the Latino community. In 2009, Latinos accounted for 20% of new HIV infections despite representing only 16% of the total US population. The HIV infection rate among Latinos in 2009 was nearly three times as high as that of whites.
African-American and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) are especially at risk for HIV. Several factors are associated with this disproportionate burden, including poverty, stigma, racism, homophobia and housing discrimination. These factors may affect whether African American and Latino MSM seek and are able to receive high-quality health services, including HIV treatment, testing and other prevention services. As the CDC and other experts point out, high rates of HIV/AIDS among communities of color are not the result of high-risk behavior, but rather structural inequalities that make them more likely to come in contact with the disease and less able to treat it.
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