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The estimated HIV infection rate among Hispanics in the U.S. was more than 3 times as high as that of whites. But, unfortunately it’s not something we openly talk about. The sexually transmitted disease increases when people have unprotected sex with multiple partners.
When this happens the HIV virus can lead to AIDS. Now there’s a scary and more aggressive form of HIV in Cuba where patients progress to AIDS within 3 years of infection. This is alarming news because this virus moves so fast, that patients don’t even know they carry the virus and in the meantime are infecting others.
Before it can enter human cells, HIV must first anchor itself to them. The virus does this via anchor points, which are proteins on the cell membrane. In a normal infection, the virus first uses the anchor point CCR5. In many patients, after a number of healthy years, the virus then switches to the anchor point CXCR4. This co-receptor switch coincides with a faster progression to AIDS.
It is estimated that there are approximately 205,000 Latinos living in the U.S. with HIV or AIDS, but unfortunately over 40% of those have no clue that they have it. Early medical treatment can help patients live a healthy lifestyle and delay the onset of AIDS. There are various types of tests you can take, such as a standard blood test, oral mucosal transudate test, or even a home testing kit.
Organizations like AIDS.gov have focused on educating the Latino community and even have designated October 15 as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. They want to encourage the conversation and get patients the help they need before it’s too late.