Many studies have evaluated factors influencing STD/HIV disparities between African-American and white populations, but fewer have explicitly included Latinos for comparison.
We analyzed demographic and behavioral data captured in electronic medical records of patients first seen by a clinician in one of two Baltimore City public STD clinics between 2004 and 2007. Records from white, African-American, and Latino patients were included in the analysis.
There were significant differences between Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups for several behavioral risk factors studied, with Latino patients reporting fewer behavioral risk factors than other patients. Latinos were more likely to have syphilis, but less likely to have gonorrhea than other racial/ethnic groups. English-proficient Latina (female) patients reported higher rates of infection and behavioral risk factors than Spanish-speaking Latina patients. After adjustment for gender and behavioral risk factors, Spanish-speaking Latinas also had significantly less risk of sexually transmitted infections than did English-speaking Latinas.
These results are consistent with other studies showing that acculturation (as measured by language proficiency) is associated with increases in reported sexual risk behaviors among Latinos. Future studies on sexual risk behavior among specific Latino populations characterized by country of origin, level of acculturation, and years in the U.S. may identify further risk factors and protective factors to guide development of culturally appropriate STD/HIV interventions.