Hispanics or Latinos in the United States make up a disproportionately high percentage of individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, according to a recent study in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to data from the CDC’s National HIV Surveillance System, Hispanics or Latinos accounted for 57,406 (20.8%) of the 276,633 adult and adolescent HIV infections diagnosed between 2008 and 2013, despite overall rates of infection among Latinos or Hispanics being lower over that timeframe than during previous years. However, the study (MMWR. 2015 Oct 9;64:1097-103) found an increase in the number of Latinos or Hispanics diagnosed with HIV infection as a result of male-to-male sexual contact, rising from 6,141 in 2008 to 7,098 in 2013 – an increase of 16%.
“Hispanics or Latinos represent about 17% of the total U.S. population [but] in 2013, the rate of HIV diagnosis among Hispanics or Latinos (18.7%) was nearly three times that of non-Hispanic whites (6.6%),” said Kristen Mahle Gray of the CDC’s division of HIV/AIDS prevention, and her coauthors.
The research team also collected data on means of HIV transmission and place of birth, which revealed that 82.8% of Hispanic or Latino men diagnosed with HIV in 2013 were infected via male-to-male contact, while 87.2% of women were infected via heterosexual intercourse. The rate of persons living with HIV infection among Hispanics or Latinos was estimated at 458.8/100,000 population, and the estimated HIV prevalence ranged from 73.6/100,000 population in Montana to 1,947.5/100,000 in the District of Columbia.
Injection drug use was found as the cause of HIV transmission for 24.9% of males born in Puerto Rico, significantly higher than the rates for those born in Central America (4.5%), Cuba (2.5%), Mexico (4.7%), and South America (2.1%). Similarly, Hispanic or Latino females born in either the United States or Puerto Rico had a higher proportion of HIV infections resulting from injection drug use than those born elsewhere – 21.2% and 20.5%, respectively.
“The higher rate of HIV infection among Hispanics or Latinos indicates that much work still needs to be done to reach Hispanics or Latinos at high risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection,” the report concludes. “Targeted strategies for Hispanic or Latino subpopulations, such as men who have sex with men and persons who inject drugs, present prevention challenges and warrant expanded efforts.”