For Immediate Release
October 8, 2012

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

Latinos Likely to Test Late for HIV

Oct. 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

TOPEKA, Kan. - Latinos are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS in both the U.S. and in Kansas. National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, Oct. 15, helps to address this health disparity by increasing knowledge of HIV and AIDS in Latino communities.

Nationally, Latinos make up about 16 percent of the population, yet represent 20 percent of new HIV infections each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Kansas, Latinos made up about 11 percent of the state population but represented 14.8 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the state in 2010. According to recent studies, Latinos are more likely to test late for HIV when compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

Knowing your HIV status now and getting proper healthcare if you are HIV-positive is much better than waiting until your health is compromised. New advances in HIV treatment have made HIV infection much more controllable and much less life threatening if action is taken early on and if treatment is maintained over time.

“The first step in preventing HIV from becoming AIDS is to be tested and be tested early,” said Brenda Walker, Director of KDHE’s Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention. “For 2010, too many of the newly diagnosed HIV cases in Kansas were also AIDS diagnoses. Those who first learn of their HIV status when they already have AIDS have less likelihood of keeping their immune systems healthy long term. Testing is crucial for people who are engaging in behaviors that can transmit HIV. Knowing your HIV status is critical.”

So, why not get tested for HIV today? You can find free testing at many local health departments and community-based organizations in Kansas by visiting www.hivtest.org.

The University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita and United Methodist Mexican American Ministries are two organizations in Kansas with a long history of serving Latino communities with HIV services. They will be coordinating a testing and education tour across parts of Western Kansas Oct. 8–11. For more information, please contact Cori Ast at 913-588-2695 or cast@kumc.edu.

For more information about HIV prevention and testing in Kansas, please contact Travis Barnhart, HIV Prevention Program Manager at KDHE, at 785-296-1037. You can learn more about National Latino AIDS Awareness Day by visiting www.nlaad.org.