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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 22, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 08
Progress against HIV leaves young Latino men behind, CDC warns
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Progress against HIV leaves young Latino men behind, CDC warns

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

HIV infections and new diagnoses are increasing among young Latino men, even though both have been decreasing in the US overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a new report.

The increases occurred mainly among Gay and Bisexual Latino men under 30.

New HIV diagnoses among Latinos were concentrated primarily in Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, Illinois, and Puerto Rico, according to the CDC.

Strangely, they were also concentrated in the Bronx, even though young Latinos there do not exhibit riskier sexual behaviors than their non-Latino peers.

Compared to national averages, Bronx youngsters are less sexually active, have had fewer lifetime sexual partners, and are more likely to have been tested for HIV, according to the CDC.

But compared with the four other New York City boroughs, the Bronx has the worst poverty, housing instability, life expectancy and exposure to community violence.

'I call it the invisible epidemic,' Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, who directs the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) at New York University's Silver School of Social Work, said.

'These are major obstacles to ending the epidemic,' Guilamo-Ramos explained. 'And I think when all those things play out, they disproportionately impact people who are black, brown, poor, undocumented, new arrivals, Spanish-speaking.'

In November 2018, the UK said it was on target to meet a UN goal of succeeding in diagnosing and effectively treating more than 90% of people with HIV. That same month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state was on track to meet its goal to end the HIV epidemic by the end of 2020.

But those goals fail to illustrate the different ways individual communities experience the epidemic.

In the US, black Gay and Bisexual men experience the highest risk of HIV infection. The next highest risk is among Latinos, and a particularly worrisome sign for that population is that infections are increasing among young people.

Health interventions, like the HIV prevention drug PrEP, are also not reaching these populations, the CDC warns. Only 13% of PrEP users are Latino, while 73% are white.

One point of hope for the Bronx is that the federal Health and Human Services Department named it as one of 48 counties it is targeting in its plan to end HIV.

'Whatever strategy the Trump administration comes up with, it's going to have to grapple with who in fact is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS: it's brown and black, it's disadvantaged,' Guilamo-Ramos concluded.

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