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HIV/AIDS in abusive relationships in the Latino Community

Hispanics are the fastest-growing minority group in the United States. According to the 2000 Census, 12.5% of the total population in the U.S. is Hispanic.

In many cases, the Latino community lives in conditions of poverty and if they are undocumented immigrants, they  may not know that they have the right to receive proper services to meet their needs. The fear of deportation, the language barrier, and low socio-economic status are factors that can negatively affect Latinos in the United States. For these reasons, there are many inequalities when it comes to the care of Latino immigrants in regards to their reproductive health.

The lack of information, medical attention and services, as well as a cultural and language barrier, can make Latino immigrants more vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS is one of the leading causes of death for Latina women. Latinas represent 20% of women diagnosed with AIDS in the United States.1  Furthermore, Latina women in abusive relationships are at an even higher risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

In general, women are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS for physical, economic and social reasons. Below are some reasons why a woman in an abusive relationship is even more vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS:

  • Women physically have more mucous membranes where microscopic cuts can be made, making transmission more likely
  • Women who are financially dependent on the abuser have less options available to them, like access to health health care or the money to purchase contraception
  • If the abuser is sexually promiscuous, there is a greater chance of contracting an STD
  • A woman may be too afraid of how the abuser might react if she asks to use a condom or other contraception
  • She may be afraid of the potential violence that could occur if she reveals her condition as HIV positive.2

To read more about how HIV/AIDS can affect a woman in an abusive relationship, see our page called Abuse Related to HIV/AIDS.

1 Zambrana R, Llewllyn C, Boykin S. Latinas and HIV/AIDS Risk Factors:
Implications for Harm Reduction Strategies, American Journal of Public Health,
1152-1158 (2004).

2 The Intersection of Intimate Partner Violence against Women and HIV/AODS: a Review. International Journal if Injury Control and Safety Promotion Vol. 15, No. 4December 2008, 221-231