Friday, August 19, 2011

New HIV Incidence Estimates Confirm Increased Impact among Latino Gay Males

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new HIV incidence estimates in the Public Library of Science Medicine (PLoS) which indicate that the overall number of new HIV infections has remained fairly steady from 2006–2009. However, the National Latino AIDS Action Network (NLAAN) is alarmed by the new estimates which identify Latino gay men as moving from the fourth to third most impacted population.

“These estimates underscore the historic challenge that Latino communities, particularly Latino gay men, have experienced in terms of the development of HIV prevention and testing efforts that are culturally and linguistically relevant,” stated Francisco Ruiz, Senior Manager at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and co-chair of NLAAN. “These new HIV estimates point to the depth of the HIV crisis among Latino gay men and the consequences associated with paltry efforts to prevent HIV transmission and combat multi-faceted forms of stigma,” he added.

As health departments and community-based organizations continue to experience drastic cuts in funding, we must carefully weigh the results of slashing prevention budgets. “The nation is at a turning point in the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” noted Oscar Raul Lopez, CEO/Lead Trainer of Connected Heath Solutions and co-chair of NLAAN. “We need to examine existing funding streams to ensure the development and support of effective behavioral, structural, and biomedical interventions for Latino gay men, including strategies that employ the use of technology like the Internet,” he stated.

The issue of immigration is a significant challenge faced by some Latino gay men. “As the disparity worsens with little relief promised to the newly immigrated Latinos under the Affordable Care Act, new measures to insure that the undocumented and new residents within the 5-year window have access to prevention, outreach, testing and treatment are imperative,” according to Dr. Britt Rios-Ellis, Director at the NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health and co-chair of NLAAN. She further explained, “This is particularly true given the fact that many immigrant Latino males often report facing particular challenges in accessing healthcare, including isolation from traditional social support systems, discrimination and a strong apprehension toward law enforcement.”

In light of the new HIV incidence estimates released today, NLAAN calls upon community-based organizations, health departments, federal agencies, policymakers, faith-based institutions, media outlets and other community entities to recommit to the goals outlined in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Only together can we effectively tackle this public health crisis.

About NLAAN: The National Latino AIDS Action Network (NLAAN) was developed as a response to the HIV/AIDS crisis within Latino/Hispanic communities and is a participatory, collaborative and diverse network of community-based organizations, national organizations, state and local health departments, researchers and concerned individuals that identifies and prioritizes the key needs of Latinos regarding HIV/AIDS prevention, research and care and treatment.

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