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HIV and the latino community in the U.S - Essay Example

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Latinos and HIV in the United States According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2007), there are about 52 million Hispanic Americans in the United States as of July 1, 2011. They are the nation’s largest ethnic minority. They constitute 16.7 percent of the total population…
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HIV and the latino community in the U.S
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Download file to see previous pages In the United States, 1.2 million people are living with HIV. African Americans have the highest prevalence of HIV by race, amounting to 45% of those infected. Latin Americans only constitute 22% of those infected with HIV. Among Latin Americans, 19% of HIV cases are attributed to heterosexual contact. The rate of infection of HIV/AIDS among Latin Americans is second only to the rate of the African Americans. They are 3.5 times higher than non-Hispanic White Americans (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a disease that attacks various organ systems of the body and weakens its ability to protect itself from infection. The last stage of this disease is AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Krapp, 2002). Aside from the physical aspects of the disease, HIV/AIDS can also affect the mental health of the individual. This disease can cause emotional distress, anxiety, and most dangerously, depression. This may stem from various sources such as the stigma associated with the disease, or it can occur if the infection ever reaches the brain of the individual. Considering that the psychiatric and psychological side effects of the disease are connected to social stigma, especially due to its nature as a sexually transmitted disease common among the sexually promiscuous or those who engage in homosexual contact. There is a social aspect to preventing this disease aside from providing care to those who have it. A study from Zea, Reisen, Poppen, Bianchi, and Echeverry (2005) examined how Latinos who tell people close to them about their HIV status helps in their mental health during the disease. It shows that telling trustworthy people about their disease helped them get the social support that they would need to get through the disease without losing their self-esteem or lapsing into depression. On the other hand, a study by Gerbi, Habtemariam, Tameru, Nganwa, Robnet, and Bowie (n. d.) talks about how psychosocial factors can affect into resorting to substance abuse and other HIV/AIDS risky behavior. It’s a harsh circle that feeds upon itself. Risky behavior increases the chances to contract HIV/AIDS. When they get HIV, they have to handle the stigma of the disease. They get pressured from not telling other people about the disease, and they get stressed by how people’s treatment of them changes from knowing about their status. This situation gives them psychological stress, which might lead them acting on more risky behavior such as substance abuse or depression, which might increase their susceptibility to other illnesses which the body cannot defend itself due to the compromised immune system. HIV is not just a systemic infection of an individual; it also affects the person’s life, his psyche, and the people around him. Giving him medicine to manage the illness is not enough. They need help to face the emotional demands of the disease like stress, anger, grief, helplessness, depression, and even cognitive disorders if the disease reaches the brain. Aside from an immunologist, it would be wise to also consider seeing a psychiatrist; it can help handle the mental aspect of the illness (American Psychiatric Association, 2006). For the case of Latinos, the risk for HIV is framed by their ethnic and racial minority status. This also connects to their socioeconomic status. These factors, plus gender, sexual orientation, and stigma increase their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. According to a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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