The lingering legacy of AIDS

Iris, 50, tested positive nearly two decades ago. Her granddaughter, who she is holding, does not have HIV.

When Iris, 50, found out she had HIV, she started preparing for her death.

Alongside the diagnosis, she found out her husband cheated on her – he tested positive too, without telling her. Their 8-year-old daughter later tested positive as well.

“I screamed and I started crying,” she remembered. “I thought I was going to die.”

Now, fewer have the same fears – her friends do not worry about the disease, sure they could control it.

“They got comfortable because of the medicine,” Iris said.           

But that kind of complacency threatens the success in fighting HIV/AIDS, experts say – and in fact, people like Iris in the Latino and immigrant communities face the highest rate of new diagnoses.

Immigrants, some undocumented who fear both officials and lack of health care, are experiencing higher rates of HIV infection in NYC.
 
The percentage of New Yorkers diagnosed with HIV who are foreign born jumped from 27 percent in 2007 to 31 percent in 2010, according to the Health Department, which called it a “public health failure” in a report. In 2001, that percentage was 17 percent.
 
“Folks are lulled into a sense of complacency,” said Joey Pressley, a staffer for Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who hosted a forum Jan. 17 about HIV prevention in her East Harlem community.
 

That complacency is dangerous, experts say.

“The No. 1 way that we can ensure that we won’t be able to end HIV/AIDS is by not paying attention to the next generation,” said Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, professor and co-director of the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University.
 

Ingrid Floyd, director at Iris House, which helps people with HIV/AIDS, said about 40 percent of their clients are Latinos, and half of those are immigrants, many from the Dominican Republic and Central America, where confronting a positive status is much harder.

“There is still such a huge stigma around HIV,” she said.

Even now, Iris struggles with the thought of sharing her status with people at the church she regularly attends. 

“I haven’t been able to tell them,” she said. “I’m afraid of rejection.”
 

But that graveyard plot she set aside?

“It’s still there, empty,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it this far.”
 

Why immigrants?

Guilamo-Ramos said at an NYU panel last week that Latinos are at particular risk for not getting care for HIV and AIDS, because many test late and then do not stay in health care. Also, they may never arrive at a clinic in the first place. “They’re so afraid of being discovered by immigration that they hesitate to engage,” said Felix Lopez, legal director at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
 

Nationally, Latinos struggle with AIDS

A Jan. 23 New York University event focused on the issue of HIV/AIDS and Hispanics, bringing together public health officials and city Health Department workers to discuss. Across the country, Latinos make up 16.7 percent of the population but 20 percent of all new cases, according to event documents. They also have the highest rates of being uninsured of any racial or ethnic group.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.