Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

How do you get it?

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HIV is carried in the blood, semen, and vaginal secretions, and can be transmitted from person to person by either blood to blood contact with a person who is infected with HIV, like sharing drug needles with someone, or by having unprotected sex with someone who has the disease.

Sex is the most common way HIV is transmitted throughout the Latino youth population. Unprotected sex (not wearing a condom) with a person who has HIV can and likely will, depending on the circumstances, get you infected. If you already have an STD ( Sexually Transmitted Disease) then you are 3 to 10 times more likely to get HIV by having sexual intercourse. Oral sex is also a mode of transmission although far less likely. Anal sex, with men or women, is by far the easiest way to get HIV; you are 10 to 100 times more likely to get HIV by having anal sex rather than vaginal sex. (2)

In the year 2001 77% of newly reported AIDS cases in Latinos were male (3) . Why are so many males getting the disease when females comparatively seem unharmed? It is due to the phenomenon of MSM ( Men who have Sex with Men) o en Espa?ol HSH (Los Hombres que tienen Sexo con Hombres) these are men who in addition to having girlfriends or wives have sex with men on the side. Due to factors such as Machismo, men who do not have sex with men exclusively, or on a regular basis do not consider themselves' gay or homosexual. Because of this they also do not worry about the risk of HIV (4) . Unfortunately, because anal sex transmits HIV so easily it only takes one instance of unprotected sex to get the virus.

You can also get the virus from intravenous drug use like heroin. Intravenous or IV drugs are drugs that are injected in to the body using a syringe or needle. When an infected person uses a needle their blood along with the virus gets inside the needle and stays there. When the next person comes to inject, or shoot up, then the infected blood from the first person can be injected into them. If you do drugs using needles (Hopefully you are not be doing drugs at all) and you use other peoples needles then you have a chance of getting HIV. (2)

Even if you don't use IV Drugs, other substances like Alcohol and marijuana impair your judgment and can put you in situations that you normally would not be in (like having unprotected sex) that can lead to HIV infection, so you should always be careful when considering drinking or smoking.


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This site was created by Ben Pate in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2004.