(Washington, D.C.) Last week, prominent Latino leaders gathered at the Capital Hilton Hotel to discuss health problems of the Latino population. The conclusion was that HIV/AIDS was the biggest threat to the health of Latinos.
Latinos make up 14 percent of the total U.S. population, but they make up almost 25 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases, a group of Latino leaders said Wednesday. The community must overcome the stigma associated with seeking treatment before that number will change, they said.
Other significant health concerns are diabetes and mental illness. Liany Elba Arroyo of the National Council of La Raza estimates that 10 percent of all Latinos over the age of 20 have diabetes.
With respect to mental illness, it's considered at crisis level among Latinos according to Majose Carrasco, director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Multicultural Action Center. Men, in particular, have extremely high rates of depression and anxiety.
The leaders believe more resources need to be devoted to Latino health facilities, research and education and help needs to be provided to reduce the stigma of seeking treatment. Latinos generally are reluctant to seek medical help because they don't feel comfortable, the leaders said. I would wager that the uncomfortable feeling comes from being illegally in the U.S. and unable to speak English.
Interestingly, the Latino leaders met on Wednesday and before the introduction of the latest illegal immigrant amnesty bill in Congress. It seems logical to anticipate that, once amnesty is granted, Latinos will no longer be stigmatized from seeking treatment and medical facility corridors will see a surge of HIV/AIDS, diabetes and mental health patients.