While Hispanic Americans represent one of the fastest growing groups affected by HIV, efforts to provide them with treatment and prevention education have been largely unsuccessful, Tennessee newspaper Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (timesfreepress.com, 3/11).

In 2005, Hispanics in the United States accounted for 19 percent of new HIV infections despite representing just 16 percent of the population.

According to the article, experts attribute this disparity to cultural barriers and stigma. Many Hispanic people fear their community may reject them if they test positive and seek out treatment.

“Many Hispanics are afraid to be tested, afraid of what will happen if they are positive…afraid that they will be cut off,” AIDS outreach coordinator with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department Tom Rucci told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Rucci adds that many undocumented immigrants fear they will be deported if they seek out treatment, but affirms that treatment is available for them regardless of immigration status.