|
|
|
Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • State marks National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

  • Fourteen percent of the state's 223 HIV/AIDS cases last year were Hispanic, even though that ethnic group represents only 9 percent of the state's population, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.    The agency said from 2000 to 2006, Kansas Latinos generally waited lon...
    • email print
  • Fourteen percent of the state's 223 HIV/AIDS cases last year were Hispanic, even though that ethnic group represents only 9 percent of the state's population, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
        The agency said from 2000 to 2006, Kansas Latinos generally waited longer before being tested for HIV than other groups and were tested later in the course of their disease.
        "From 2000 through 2006, 67 percent of Hispanics/Latinos were diagnosed with AIDS within one year of their HIV diagnosis," the agency said in a news release. "This compares to African Americans at 61 percent and whites at 58 percent."
        Health care agencies throughout the state, including the United Methodist Mexican American Ministries clinics in Dodge City and Garden City, are planning events today to mark the sixth annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. The day is designed to encourage HIV testing and promote community support for efforts to reduce the impact of the virus.
        Hispanic people at risk of contracting HIV may be waiting longer to be tested because they aren't properly educated about health issues, including HIV/AIDS, said Arturo Ponce, HIV/AIDS prevention coordinator for KDHE's Region 9.
        "They need to get education and also need to get testing, not only for HIV but also for different kinds of health issues," he said. "This, I think, is the most important thing — education."
        Ponce said Hispanics are reluctant to seek HIV testing for several reasons, including the stigma still associated with people living with AIDS. Other reasons include the belief that the test is too expensive, and fears that people seeking the test will have to provide proof of their identity or immigration status.
        But Ponce said that such fears are unfounded.
        "We don't request any information about these," he said. "It's confidential, and it's free."
        L. William Lyons, director of the HIV/AIDS program at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said that the state has seen a 45.5 percent increase in newly diagnosed AIDS cases among Hispanic people from 2000 through 2007.
        "Getting tested is the first step in taking care of yourself and those you care about," he said in the news release.
        The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people at high risk for HIV infection should be tested at least once a year. It usually takes about 10 years to develop AIDS after a person is infected with HIV.
        Kansans who are at risk for HIV can get tested at more than 100 sites across the state, according to KDHE. They may contact their local health department or KDHE's HIV/STD section at (785) 296-6174 for the nearest site.
        Sharon Goolsby, director of the KDHE Center for Health Disparities, said the agency encourages health care providers to deal with the issue of HIV testing in a sensitive fashion.
    Page 2 of 2 -     "This is critical if we are going to eliminate the disproportionate impact of HIV upon the Hispanic community in Kansas," she said.
       
    Rweach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.
       
      • calendar