Health experts argue that stigma and lack of education surrounding HIV and homosexuality within Latino communities are the main causes for the disproportionate spread of the virus among U.S. Latinos, Al Jazeera reports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Latinos account for nearly 21 percent of new HIV cases each year, although they are only 16 percent of the U.S. population. The CDC also estimates that about one in 50 U.S. Latinos will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetimes.

Experts claim shame and denial, stemming from conservative religious beliefs and “machismo” within Latino culture, keep many men from acknowledging risky behaviors, getting tested or connecting to care.

Health experts also cite other significant factors, such as language barriers, concerns about immigration status, and lack of access to health care. For instance, Planned Parenthood reports that Latinos are the least likely of all U.S. ethnic groups to be insured, and more than one in four Latinos in the United States live in poverty.

These factors prevent Latinos from accessing quality reproductive and sexual health care, making them more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than other racial groups, which puts them at greater risk for HIV.

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