Side Effects and Stigma Keep Minorities from HIV Treatment

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A new study from NYU says that African Americans and Latinos living with HIV or AIDS may be avoiding medication because of fears of side effects and social stigma. 

According to the study, a history of severe side effects from HIV medications has kept people of color from seeking help. Dr. Noelle Leonard, one of the study's authors, said that many vulnerable people of color don't want treatment because they don't trust that the drugs work.

"For many, making a lifelong commitment to a medication that you're scared of, and one you need to take every day, can be daunting," Dr. Leonard said.

The study comes weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to end the AIDS epidemic in New York. But the plan, which includes promoting the drug Truvada as a way to prevent the spread of HIV, may not work if some vulnerable populations don't trust the medical system.

"Truvada as prophylactic treatment might be a very tough sell to people of color who are at risk for HIV, but who have these similar fears and hold similar attitudes toward medications and the medical establishment," Dr. Leonard said.

There's one bright spot to the study: researchers also found that people who are currently receiving treatment for HIV or AIDS are twice as likely to recruit others for treatment than clinics or hospitals.