Groups Target HIV Prevention at Latinos in Michigan, California, Arizona
Several groups, realizing the need to prevent HIV among Latinos, have begun campaigns to encourage Latinos to be tested for HIV. In Michigan, as the rate of Latinos who fail to return to obtain the results of their HIV tests was the highest of any ethnic group in 1999 -- 53% versus 46% among blacks and 23% among whites and Asians -- the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project last fall developed a new support group for gay Latinos called Comunidad, the Detroit Free Press reports. The group's mission is to educate men on HIV and AIDS and improve the low return rate that has "dogged health experts for years." According to the group, homosexuality can be viewed as "shameful" in the Latino community, which places an emphasis on family and Catholicism. Latinos are one of the fastest-growing groups in Detroit and the surrounding counties, with the population rising 33% since 1990 (Laitner, Detroit Free Press, 1/12).
HIV Testing Campaign for Gay, Latino Men
Alameda County, Calif., supervisors have approved for the second year a controversial advertising campaign urging people to get tested for HIV, this time targeting gay or bisexual Hispanic men and intravenous drug users, the Oakland Tribune reports. The 4-1 vote commissions Hill & Company Communications Inc. to resume the campaign this spring. Last year, Hill & Company directed the ads toward the African-American community, a group that represents 17% of the population but 71% of those testing positive for HIV in 1997, County Public Health Department spokesperson Sherri Willis said. The controversial ads last year included images of two men laying unclothed together with an unused condom nearby, teens hanging out by Lake Merritt and a man holding hands with another man while his arm is around a woman. This year's campaign will focus on Hispanic men who have sex with men, among whom AIDS increased by 5.9% between 1991 and 1996, as opposed to an 8.3% decrease among all other men contracting the virus from same-sex encounters, Willis said. Another change with the new campaign will be the distribution of the more graphic images to select locations, such as gay bars, where they will not be viewed by the general public (Horowitz, Oakland Tribune, 1/11).
AIDS Increasing Among Latinos in Arizona
The "unchecked" spread of AIDS among Latinos in Arizona may be the result of language and cultural barriers, but a lack of directed funding is also responsible, a group of educators and activists "charged" Thursday, the Arizona Republic reports. Seventeen percent of the 4,743 HIV cases reported in the state are among Latinos, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. People of Color HealthCare Executive Director Juan Guevara noted that only $12,000 of the $16 million the state spends on HIV prevention and treatment is designated to programs targeted at Latinos. In response, state Rep. John Loredo (D-Phoenix) has pledged a proposal to earmark $1 million for "culturally sensitive" HIV prevention and education programs specifically aimed at minorities (Gonzalez, Arizona Republic, 1/12).