Far too many Latinos are becoming HIV-infected and dying of AIDS — sometimes out of ignorance, other times out of fear.
A story in today’s edition focuses on some of the dangerous taboos and stereotypes that prevent Latino men and women from using condoms, periodically taking the HIV test and demanding their partners to be tested.
When asked why they take risks with unprotected sex, women report not wanting to offend their partners by asking them to use a condom or take the HIV test. Men said they feel offended if asked to do so.
It is time to cross that line and be offensive.
There is more to fear than the reaction of a partner: New York City is the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. In the first quarter of this year alone, 1,787 New Yorkers 559 of them Latino- became the latest cases of HIV/AIDS. This is on top of the 109,000 city residents already living with the virus.
Last year, New York State mandated healthcare providers to offer HIV testing to patients between 13 and 64 years of age. This was a bold step that must be paired with ongoing HIV/AIDS education.
But the responsibility to stop the spread of virus-and protect the health of our community- also falls on each of us.
This is a call for Latinos to break the silence. Make HIV testing part of your regular healthcare check up. Speak to your children about the disease. Demand to use of a condom, and to take a test before engaging in unprotected sex. Be smart. Be offensive.