Kaiser Family Foundation National Survey of Latinos on HIV/AIDS – News Release

Two New Studies On Latinos And AIDS In America:

  • Survey Of Latinos Finds Widespread Concern About HIV/AIDS; Impact Of Disease Felt “Close To Home”
  • Report Documents Impact Of AIDS/HIV On Hispanics And Offers Guidance For Community Health Providers

Embargoed For Release Until:9:30 am, ET, Friday, May 1, 1998

For Further Information Contact: Tina Hoff or Matt James/KFF
(650) 854-9400

Xiomara Sosa/COSSMHO
(202) 797-4335

Washington, DC — Next week Latino leaders will gather at Harvard University for the first ever Latino “Leading for Life/Unidos Para la Vida” conference to discuss how to address the growing problem of HIV/AIDS among Latinos. As Latino leaders mobilize to address the problem of HIV/AIDS, most Latinos living in the U.S. today say they are extremely concerned about the impact of this deadly disease on their communities, families and themselves, according to a new national survey released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation, along with the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations (COSSMHO).

Highlights from the Kaiser Family Foundation National Survey of Latinos on HIV/AIDS:

  • One in two Latinos (50%) rate AIDS as the nation’s most urgent health problem, and nine in ten (91%) say it is a major threat to public health in this country;
  • Half of all Latinos (52%) say AIDS is a more urgent problem today for their local community than it was a few years ago and one in five (20%) say their community is losing ground on AIDS;
  • Two thirds of Latinos (67%) say AIDS is a very serious problem for people they know and a third (35%) say they personally know someone who has HIV or AIDS or who died from AIDS;
  • 46% of Latinos say they are very worried about becoming infected with HIV, a level of worry which far exceeds that among a national sample of all Americans (24%), and 41 percent say their personal worry has grown in recent years.

Responding to the concerns and information needs of Hispanics about HIV/AIDS at the community level, COSSMHO also released today HIV/AIDS: The Impact on Hispanics. This report, which contains the most current data on the AIDS epidemic among Hispanics, including national trends as well as variations by region, supports the need to intensify community-based prevention and education efforts. Produced for community-based organizations, health and human services professionals, and others, it offers information for accessing Hispanics’ response to HIV/AIDS and suggestions for a course of action.

“At a time when public perception moves in the direction of viewing HIV/AIDS as a manageable disease, Hispanic communities continue to be devastated by this epidemic,” said Jane L. Delgado, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations (COSSMHO).

COSSMHO recommends that every comprehensive community-based HIV/AIDS program should have the following:

  • Access to culturally and linguistically appropriate, voluntary and anonymous testing, and appropriate medical care for early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection;
  • AIDS education curricula (that include information about HIV/AIDS, skill building on condom use, the interpersonal challenges of negotiating safer sex, and avoiding drug use) to be used in junior- and senior-high school settings, and targeted settings for out-of-school youth;
  • Outreach, education, and prevention — including the provision of prevention tools such as sterile injection equipment — to persons who are injecting drugs.

THE FACTS from HIV/AIDS: The Impact on Hispanics:

As of June 1997, a total of 109,252 Hispanic AIDS cases had been reported in the U.S. While Hispanics make up 12 percent of the U.S. population (including Puerto Rico), they account for 18 percent of all AIDS cases in this country. This represents a continued upward trend: in 1995, Hispanics accounted for 15 percent of all AIDS cases. While AIDS mortality declined by 32 percent in 1996 for non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics experienced a 20 percent decline and non-Hispanic blacks a 13 percent decline.

There is significant variation in the regional distribution of Hispanic AIDS cases by exposure category. In the Eastern part of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, injection drug use (IDU) constitutes the most significant exposure category for Hispanic AIDS cases (MA, NJ, NY). For the other states studied in this report (AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, NM, TX), men who have sex with men represent the most significant exposure category.

The Role of Information in Fighting HIV/AIDS

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, almost all Latinos know that HIV is sexually transmitted (98%) and that a pregnant woman with HIV can pass it to her baby (92%). Slightly fewer, though still the majority, know there is no cure for AIDS (77%) and that no vaccine against HIV is available (68%).

“Even those who are most knowledgeable about AIDS say there is more information they want, especially about the most practical aspects of HIV prevention: how to talk with children and partners, and where to go for testing and treatment,” said Sophia Chang, MD, Director of HIV Programs, Kaiser Family Foundation.

While Latinos know the basic facts about HIV/AIDS, most say there are areas they want to know more about, such as how to talk with children (70%) and partners (51%) about this disease and where to go if exposed to HIV for testing (58%) and treatment (63%). Many (41%) also say that to help guard against the spread of HIV they want more information about how to properly use condoms. Importantly, respondents interviewed in Spanish (50% of the sample) cited an even greater desire for information in all areas, highlighting the importance of making education and prevention materials available in both English and Spanish.

The media, especially television and radio, is a leading source of information about HIV/AIDS for Latinos. Seven in ten Latinos (70%) say they heard something about HIV/AIDS in the past month on a television news program, and two in five (44%) got information from an entertainment show on television. Radio talk or call-in shows (42%) and other radio programming (34%) also figure as information sources. Beyond the media, health care providers (32%), family and friends (28%), and the church (20%) are the next most commonly named resources on HIV/AIDS. There is also some variation in information resources used by Latinos depending on the language of their interview: Latinos who were surveyed in Spanish were most likely to have gotten information about HIV/AIDS from broadcast outlets, including television news (73%) and entertainment (49%) programming and radio call-in or talk shows (48%); those who were interviewed in English also most frequently named television news programs (67%), but were more likely to turn to print media such as magazines (56%) and newspapers (50%).

Taking the Lead: Whose Responsibility?

Latinos see a variety of players in the fight against AIDS, giving slightly higher marks to community level efforts than to government. Latinos see community groups, such as local health care providers, churches, and schools, as among the most concerned and most active in reducing the impact of the epidemic. Fewer Latinos say government at any level cares or does as much in the fight against AIDS. Among all groups — community and government — Latinos leave room for more action.

In terms of what is needed to fight against the disease, Latinos strongly support more government efforts. Two in five (44%) say the government spends too little money on HIV/AIDS and the majority supports increased spending across a range of areas including education and other prevention activities (94%), expanding access to new drug therapies (94%), and research to find more effective treatments (95%) as well as a vaccine (94%).

A majority (56%) of Latinos also favor needle exchange – programs that offer clean needles to IV drug users in exchange for used ones. Opinions on this issue, however, appear to be influenced by how it is presented. When given an argument made by opponents of needle exchange – that it gives tacit approval of illegal drug use – support is lower among Latinos: 41% favor, 56% oppose.

Survey Methodology

The Kaiser Family Foundation National Survey of Latinos on HIV/AIDS is a random-sample national survey of 802 Latino adults, 18 years and older. The survey was designed by staff at the Foundation and conducted by telephone in both English and Spanish by Princeton Survey Research Associates (PSRA) between September 19 and October 26, 1997. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percent. The margin of sampling error may be higher for some of the sub-sets in this analysis.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, based in Menlo Park, California, is an independent national health care philanthropy and is not associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries.

The National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations (COSSMHO) for 25 years has been connecting communities and creating change to improve the health and well-being of Hispanics in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, DC, COSSMHO is the sole national organization focusing on the health and human services needs of the diverse Hispanic communities. COSSMHO’s membership consists of thousands of front-line health and human services providers and organizations serving Hispanic communities in the United States and Puerto Rico.

A more detailed report on the survey findings, including analysis by age, gender, region of the country, religion, income and education, is available by calling the Kaiser Family Foundation’s publication request line at 1-800-656-4533 (Ask for 1392 in English or 1393 in Spanish).

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.