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Latinos represent nearly a third of new HIV diagnoses in the US, CDC data shows

·2 mins

When a Tennessee HVAC technician named Felix Hernandez learned of his HIV diagnosis, he felt alone and isolated. To support others who may be experiencing similar feelings, Hernandez began administering HIV tests at a clinic. During his time working at the clinic, he noticed an increasing number of HIV infections among Latinos. According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos accounted for nearly a third of new HIV diagnoses in 2022, despite representing less than 20% of the US population. The rate of new HIV diagnoses among Hispanics or Latinos is nearly double the national rate, and it has been rising rapidly. The uninsured rate among Hispanics or Latinos is significantly high, which contributes to the problem. Lack of access to proper healthcare, socio-economic instability, mental health issues, and substance abuse further exacerbate the issue. The stigma and misinformation surrounding HIV within the Latino community also pose significant barriers to seeking testing and treatment. Young gay Latino men, transgender women, and newly settled immigrants are particularly affected by HIV. In 2022, Latino men who have sex with men had the highest number of new HIV diagnoses compared to other racial and ethnic groups. The Catholic influence in Latin America contributes to the taboo nature of discussing sex, especially homosexuality, which further inhibits open conversations about HIV. Increased awareness and access to testing, care, and HIV prevention methods like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are crucial in combating the spread of HIV within the Latino community. Organizations like Entre Hermanos are working towards providing services, support, and education to raise awareness about HIV and PrEP. There is a need for more resources and support from institutions and the community to address the issue and ensure proper education and prevention measures are in place. Efforts to address the rising HIV rates among Latinos have been called for by experts and advocates. The equitable distribution of resources to the Latino community, eliminating barriers to care, and building a Latino HIV workforce are among the proposed actions to combat the epidemic. Healthcare providers are also encouraged to offer routine HIV and STD testing to ensure individuals receive the necessary care and support. Felix Hernandez remains dedicated to raising awareness about HIV in the Latino community and emphasizes the importance of community support and solidarity in combating the disease. Hernandez believes that by working together, HIV can eventually be eradicated.