World AIDS Day reminder that systemic barriers leave Latinas at higher risk
December 1 marks the annual World AIDS Day as organizations across the United States and the world work together toward an AIDS-free generation by raising awareness about the importance of protection and testing.
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), the only national organization working on behalf of the reproductive rights of the more than 24 million Latinas in the U.S., is using World AIDS Day as an opportunity to remind Latinas of their increased risk and to draw attention to the systemic barriers that make Latinas more likely to contract HIV/AIDS and prevent them from accessing testing and treatment. Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH, issues the following statement:
“HIV/AIDS is a serious threat to the health of Latinas, who are four times more likely than white women to be infected. Systemic barriers, such as poverty, immigration status and lack of insurance, make accessing protection and testing more difficult for Latinas, leading to higher rates of infection. These factors also prevent Latinas from accessing quality, affordable treatment, which contributes to an accelerated advance from HIV to AIDS.
“Because the majority of Latinas contract HIV from having unprotected sex with a man, improved access to protection and to sexual education are both critical to reducing rates of Latina HIV infection. Far too few Latinas have access to the sex education they need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. More than half of Puerto Rican and Mexican American women, for example, received no sex education from their parents, and one in four Puerto Rican and two in five Mexican American women reported no sex education in school.
“In order to reach an AIDS-free generation, NLIRH advocates for programs and policies that break down the systemic barriers that harm Latina health. Eliminating these barriers is a critical step to reducing HIV rates for Latinas.”
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national organization working on behalf of the reproductive health and justice of the 24 million Latinas, their families and communities in the United States through public education, community mobilization and policy advocacy.