Latinos living with HIV in the United States have lower rates of linkage to and retention in HIV care as well as viral suppression. HIV-positive African Americans lag behind both groups on such measures.

Publishing their findings in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC researchers analyzed data from the agency’s National HIV Surveillance System. They looked specifically at data on Latinos age 13 and older living with HIV in 37 states plus Washington, DC. These 38 jurisdictions, which each provide sufficient laboratory reporting on the virus, accounted for 75.2 percent of Latinos living with diagnosed HIV at the end of 2014.

Among the 6,707 Latinos diagnosed with HIV in the 38 jurisdictions in 2015, 24.5 percent were classified as having stage 1 of HIV disease, or an early case, while 33.6 percent had the more advanced stage 2 of HIV disease and 23.1 percent had stage 3, which is synonymous with AIDS; 18.8 percent had an unknown stage. Broken down by age groups, the younger individuals were generally more likely to be diagnosed during an earlier stage than the older ones. Part of this phenomenon may have to do with the fact that compared with older individuals, younger people, by virtue of being alive for fewer years, have had less time to live with HIV and have it develop into a later stage.

A total of 75.4 percent of Latinos diagnosed in 2015 were linked to HIV-related care within one month of diagnosis, with older individuals more likely to fall into this category than younger ones. The corresponding figure for whites was 79.9 percent. The national goal for 2020 is an 85 percent prompt linkage to care rate.

Among the 141,929 Latinos living with HIV in the 38 jurisdictions in 2015, 70.2 percent received care for the virus, 58.3 percent were retained in regular care and 58.2 percent had a fully suppressed viral load. By comparison, 58.5 percent of whites were retained in regular care and 65 percent had a fully suppressed viral load. The corresponding respective national goals for 2020 are 90 percent and 80 percent.

Intensified efforts to develop and implement effective interventions and public health strategies that increase engagement in care and viral suppression among Hispanics or Latinos, particularly those who inject drugs, are needed to achieve national HIV prevention goals,” the CDC researchers concluded.

To read the report, click here.