Seeing Red: 6 Things You Need To Know About HIV/AIDS & Latinos

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HIV and AIDS are sorely underdiscussed in our community, despite the fact that the rate of new HIV infections among Latinas is more than three times as high as it is for whites. It's time to turn up the volume on AIDS and HIV awareness among Latinos and encourage everyone to get tested. To put it bluntly: it's a matter of life and death. Below, read six things you need to know about Latinos and HIV/AIDS:

1. Latinos accounted for 20% of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV infections in the United States in 2011. 

2. One in 106 Latinas will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. 

3. In 2013, 10,888 Latinos were diagnosed with HIV in the United States. 

4. By the end of 2012, an estimated 125,051 Latinos who had ever been diagnosed with AIDS had died in the United States of its territories. 

5. Cultural stigmas contribute to higher rates of AIDS and HIV in the Latino community. Many Latinos avoid seeking testing, counseling or treatment because of immigration status, fear or discrimination, language barriers or taboos surrounding sexual behavior. 

6. Late diagnosis significantly increases the likelihood of death. Among those Latinos who are HIV-positive, 36 percent were tested for HIV late in their illness — that is, diagnosed with AIDs within one year of testing positive — compared with 31 percent of blacks and 32 percent of whites. For confidential HIV testing, try OraQuick, an oral-swab test that give you accurate results at home in 20 minutes ($44, cvs.com) or the Home Access HIV-1 Test system ($44, homeaccess.com), a blood test you can mail to a lab for results in about a week. For those in the New York City area, the Latino Commission on AIDS offers free in-house HIV and Hepatitis C tests.

This story originally appeared in the December 2015/January 2016 issue of Latina magazine.