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As of July, 2008, a little more than 3% of the state's population is Latino. Of those Latinos living in Louisiana, nearly 3.5% of them are living with either HIV or AIDS.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
On a national level, the rate of serious sexually-transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are two – to – three times as high among Hispanics / Latinos than among whites. This higher rate of STDs among a population can lead to a increase in that population's chances of contracting HIV partly because of the physical changes caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including genital lesions, can serve as an entry point for HIV.
Hispanic/Latino Cultural Beliefs –Risk and Protective Factors
Research has shown that Hispanic/Latino cultural concepts of masculinity and femininity, thus the social norms of sexuality, have created double standards and power inequalities that have been linked to HIV risk and protective behaviors. For some Hispanic/Latino men, the traditional gender role of “machismo” has positive implications for HIV prevention, such as strength and protection of the family. However, proving masculinity through power and dominance can lead both straight and gay Hispanic/Latino men to engage in risky sex behavior, such as sex with multiple partners, unprotected sex with women or men, or sexual coercion. “Familismo,” or a strong commitment to family, can be a strong incentive for some Hispanic/Latino men to reduce unprotected sex with casual partners. Familismo can also be a source of conflict for Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men (MSM), whose families may have a negative view of homosexuality. Further, many Hispanic/Latino MSM identify themselves as heterosexual and, as a result, may not relate to prevention messages crafted for gay men.
Greater acculturation into the US culture has been associated with the adoption of several health-protective behaviors among Hispanics/Latinos, including communicating with partners about sexual safety and disclosing positive HIV “serostatus” (the presence or absence of specific substances in blood serum). However, high levels of acculturation have also been associated with an increase in behaviors that are risk factors for HIV infection. In one study, highly acculturated HIV-positive Hispanic/Latino men were more likely to use drugs before sex, which increased unsafe sexual behavior and poor decision - making. For Hispanic/Latina women, those who were more highly acculturated were more likely to inject drugs and to have had a greater number of sex partners.
It is important to note, however, that because of the diversity of Hispanic/Latino people and cultures in the United States, the above-mentioned research on Hispanic/Latino cultural beliefs and HIV risk behaviors does not apply to all individuals or groups of Hispanic/Latino origin.
Click here to learn about how HIV/AIDS can affect your immigration status.
Louisiana Latino Project (LLP)
In 2006 the Louisiana Office of Public Health HIV/AIDS Program (HAP) created The Louisiana Latino Project (LLP) in response to the growing number of Latinos in the state and the lack of services available to them. In its inception, the LLP provided direct services to the Latino population. Through these interactions, the Latino Project was able to establish a strong connection between Latinos in the community and local agencies. Once the LLP cemented these relationships, it began to play a different role in the creation of culturally-appropriate services for Latinos living in Louisiana. Currently, the LLP provides encouragement, support and technical assistance for interested agencies to improve their services to Latinos throughout the state by improving outreach practices, providing different programming options and aiding in the recruitment of bilingual volunteers and staff.
National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD)
In 2003, October 15th was established as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) to draw attention to the critical role HIV testing and prevention education plays in stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS among Latino communities. It is a day during Hispanic heritage month when organizations around the country promote and sponsor activities that respond to the state of HIV/AIDS among Latinos in their specific communities.
Each year, the Louisiana Latino Health Coalition and Louisiana Latino Project (LLP) organizes various events. All the CBOs located in the 9 regions are welcome to participate. Also, other health organizations are welcome to support our CBOs. Some activities include:
Visit http://www.nlaad.org/ for more ideas.
At the Raising Awareness with a Piñata Party, we use the piñata in a little different way. Instead of candy and toys, our piñatas are filled with condoms, and adults try to break the piñata, not children. The piñata party is typically hosted at local night clubs (number of participating night clubs and locations pending).
Participating is an excellent way to help prevent HIV from spreading in your community. There are many activities that you or your organization can participate in to raise awareness in your community:
Latino – Men
A number of cultural, socioeconomic and health-related factors contribute to the HIV epidemic in the US Hispanic/Latino community. Research shows that behavioral risk factors for HIV infection differ by country of birth. Data suggest that Hispanics/Latinos born in Puerto Rico are more likely than other Hispanics/Latinos to contract HIV as a result of injection drug use or high-risk heterosexual contact. By contrast, sexual contact with other men is the primary cause of HIV infections among Hispanic/Latino men born in Central or South America, Cuba, Mexico or the United States.
Inconsistent condom use presents another challenge when attempting to promote healthy behaviors. An assessment of HIV risk behaviors among men who have sex with men (“MSM”) in the southeastern US found that Hispanic/Latino and Black men were more likely than white men to report inconsistent condom use during anal sex with multiple partners and that Hispanic/Latino men were more likely to have never been tested for HIV infection.
However, in a study of heterosexual Hispanic/Latino men, consistent recent condom use and intentions to use condoms during the next month were associated with positive attitudes about condom use, perception that one’s partner had a positive view of condom use and greater participation in decision making about condom use.
Latino – Women
According to a national study, Hispanic/Latina women are most likely to be infected with HIV as a result of sex with men. Some women, including those who suspect that their partners are at risk for HIV infection, may be reluctant to discuss condom use with their partners because they fear emotional or physical abuse or the withdrawal of financial support.
“Entre Mujeres” Program
“Entre Mujeres,” or “Among Women,” is a community-level HIV prevention / intervention program for Hispanic/Latino women. The program encourages them to become agents of social change within their community by empowering them to create safe environments within their social networks to promote healthier lifestyles through conversation.
Facts about Latinas and HIV/AIDS
Tips for Latinas
Tips for approaching a partner to wear a condom
Tips for Latinas if their partners become angry or abusive