Stepped-up prevention efforts aimed at injection drug users in the northeastern United States and Puerto Rico could help curb disproportionately high rates of HIV infection among Hispanic or Latino populations, according to federal health officials.
Nationally, new HIV diagnoses among Hispanic or Latino populations were nearly 3 times higher than in non-Hispanic white individuals in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
But Hispanic or Latino populations in northeastern states had a higher burden of infection than in any other region of the country. The rate of newly diagnosed HIV infection in the Northeast, 55.0 per 100 000 population, was twice as high as in the South, which ranked second with a rate of 27.6 per 100 000. The rate was 20.9 in the West and 19.2 in the Midwest.
The Northeast also had the highest rate of previously diagnosed HIV infections among Hispanic or Latino individuals, at 1252.6 per 100 000, nearly 4 times higher than in the second-ranked South, where the rate was 333.7 per 100 000. The rate was 293.5 in the Midwest and 288.2 in the West.
The report noted that the Northeast is home to about 14% of the country’s Hispanic or Latino population but reported 26% of newly diagnosed HIV infections in these groups.
HIV transmission patterns in the Northeast, where about 35% of Hispanics or Latinos are of Puerto Rican descent, are similar to those in Puerto Rico, the CDC reported. Both regions had a lower proportion of infections from male-to-male sexual contact than in the other 3 areas of the United States, as well as higher proportions of infections from injection drug use.
With the upcoming observance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day on October 15, the CDC said its high-impact prevention approach—biomedical intervention, HIV testing and linkage to care, and individual and small group interventions—should be directed toward high-risk Hispanic or Latino populations, especially injection drug users in the Northeast and Puerto Rico.