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HIV/AIDS Concerns in Latino Population

Mecklenburg County health officials believe too few Latinos in the region are being tested or treated for HIV/AIDS. Nationwide, Latinos make up nineteen percent of AIDS cases, but only 14-percent of the population. Those figures are reversed in Mecklenburg County, with Latinos comprising 10 percent of the population but less than five percent of AIDS cases. Gloria Perez of the Metrolina AIDS Project says the data is inaccurate here because Latinos are not getting tested. "The Latino is always afraid of being deported," says Perez. "Most of them - not all of them of course - are illegal. When they're really sick they go to the emergency room, because they know they can get treatment there." Perez says undocumented Latinos believe doctors will turn them in to immigration officials. She also says many Latinos do not believe they are at risk for HIV, even if they have unprotected sex. The latest North Carolina epidemiology survey shows the HIV/AIDS rate among Latinos is four times that for Whites. African Americans have the highest rate. On Saturday, the Mecklenburg County will offer free HIV/AIDS testing at Plaza Fiesta in Fort Mill from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.