December #66 : The Viral Lowdown: Lack of Leadership Leaves Latinos In Lethal Lurch

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Table of Contents

The Viral Lowdown: Can You Believe What She Says?

The Viral Lowdown: Say What

The Viral Lowdown: Word Is Out For New HIVers

The Viral Lowdown: Dishing Out the Denial

The Viral Lowdown: Pharma Flubs Phase IV

The Viral Lowdown: Lack of Leadership Leaves Latinos In Lethal Lurch

The Viral Lowdown: Mystery: Partially Positive

The Viral Lowdown: Prison Death Prompts Probe

The Viral Lowdown: African AIDS Under a TAC

The Viral Lowdown: All Dolled Up: Rx Abuse High Among Gay HIVers


The Viral Lowdown: If Not Now, When? If Not Us, Who?

The Viral Lowdown: News Flash: The Sky Isn't Falling!

The Viral Lowdown: HIVers in Hock to Homophobia

Tales of the (Safer Sex) City

Clean, Sober...and Medicated?

The Secret Plot to Destroy African Americans


The Art Of Living

Summit, Some More

Channel Surfing

Shout Out

Lights! Camera! Handcuffs?

Quick Picks

Life Is Sweet

Packing Meat, Just Barely

A Cell of One’s Own


Doing AIDS Justice

Petal Pusher

Carry On, MP

Milk Got You?

Comfort Zone

Big Science Kicker

Herb Of The Month

Protease Progeny

It Takes Guts

Between A Recovery And A Hard Place

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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December 2000

The Viral Lowdown: Lack of Leadership Leaves Latinos In Lethal Lurch

So it was the year of the Latino, right? If you're a bilingual pop star, you grabbed Grammys and platinum record sales. But even though the rate of new HIV infections among Latinos is four times that of whites, Ricky Martin's ass-shaking got mucho más ink than the fact that Latino groups are reported AWOL on AIDS.

"It's been hard to put a Latino face on AIDS," said Dennis deLeon, head of New York City's Latino Commission on AIDS. "There's a feeling that 'somebody else' is taking care of it."

Blacks made up more than half of all infections last year; Latinos, one fifth. But lacking a Magic Johnson-sized PWA -- or such leaders as Rev. Jesse Jackson -- many advocates wonder how bad it has to get before it gets better. "The emphasis has been on the African-American experience, which is huge and terrible," deLeon said. "Many of the same barriers that stalled black AIDS action are at work here but there are others unique to us, too."

One is the language divide; another, differing risk factors. According to deLeon, Mexican-American men who have sex with men are more likely to be at risk, while among Puerto Ricans, IV-drug users are. "There's no one way to address so many different heritages, and risk factors," he said.

Rich in clashing cultures, Latinos have never been politically cohesive, and there's no single equivalent to the NAACP. "Latinos need to step up," said Angel Nuñez of Florida's Farmwork Coordinating Council, which does prevention among rural Latinos. "I go out to the fields in my jeans and sneakers, and people listen to me." And advocates from, say, the National Minority AIDS Council should spend more time outside the Beltway, added Nuñez.

Black awareness' recipe may have to be translated into Latino: a 1998 study found that 90 percent of Latinos saw AIDS as a major threat. Even Carlos Santana might have something to say. Is anyone asking?

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