Matteo Leggett, Whitman College

“I felt rejected by the people because they thought that I was positive, even though I didn’t show any signs of being positive, I never said I was positive, because in the community in which we reside, we are many Hispanics, and the community has yet to educate itself, they think that by touching them, or greeting them, or sitting with friends, that oh, you’ll pass on the disease.”

— Anonymous, Latino HIV/AIDS educator.


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In this report, I examine the most effective ways to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among Latinos.  In addition, I address why Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, by focusing on two (among many) contributory factors: the dearth of effective prevention programs targeted specifically towards Latinos and the role of stigma in inhibiting testing for HIV.


From the HIV/AIDS literature that I reviewed, the most effective way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among Latinos is by considering cultural specificities, gender role norms, language, and the role of stigma and fear in the implementation of prevention interventions.  Cognizant of these important factors, I collected quantitative data on a national and state level, carried out a case study on Blue Mountain Heart to Heart’s Latino outreach program, and conducted an interview with a Latino HIV/AIDS educator.


  • There are substantial gaps in the HIV/AIDS literature.  Specifically, there has not been enough research on prevention interventions targeted directly towards Latinos.
  • Stigma attached to the disease as well as the HIV test itself inhibits HIV prevention efforts.  More generally, fear of being perceived as promiscuous, gay, or a drug abuser inhibits HIV prevention efforts.
  • Statistics on a national and state level indicate that Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS.
  • Blue Mountain Heart to Heart’s Latino Outreach Program has helped prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the local area.


  • More prevention interventions with proven effectiveness should be geared towards Latinos.
  • The prevention interventions developed for Latinos should be culturally specific as well as gender sensitive.  Further, prevention interventions should consider both English and Spanish speaking Latinos.
  • HIV/AIDS statistics from the Centers for Disease and Control and the Washington State Department of Health should consider inhibitory factors to HIV testing such as stigma and religion.  Moreover, the Latino category in statistics should be expanded into more categories.

Community Partner:

Another source of information and support for this report has been my Community Partner, Suzanne Morrissey.  Professor Morrissey is the director of Blue Mountain Heart to Heart.

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