Assessing utilization of mental health and substance use services among Latinx living with HIV or at high risk for HIV in the Deep South
In 2019 Latinos constituted 18% of the US population, up from 16% in 2010, with 26% growth in in the Southern states between 2010 and 2019.1 For instance, the Hispanic population grew 20% in Alabama, 22% in Georgia, 27% in Louisiana, 22% in Mississippi, 27% in North Carolina, 30% in South Carolina, and 34% in Tennessee.2 Many of the factors that contribute to the South’s overall disproportionate HIV burden also apply to Latinos, including poverty, rural isolation, cultural conservatism, and stigma. Additional factors impacting Latinos include socioeconomic barriers to accessing healthcare, anti-immigrant policies, lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services, and social and structural racism.
Mental illness and substance use have been clearly identified with heightened HIV risk as well as poor HIV treatment adherence.3-6 Furthermore, there is considerable evidence of high levels of mental illness and substance abuse among Latinx.7,8 Nonetheless, utilization of existing behavioral health services is less than optimal among Latinx communities.8-10 A variety of factors are associated with lack of access and/or utilization,11-20 including limited availability of services or insurance coverage, limited English proficiency, stigmatization of mental illness and substance use, family and community views on behavioral health, and lack of social support to engage in services.
Building on previous assessments and with guidance from a community advisory committee, LCOA will partner with community-based organizations to conduct regional surveys and focus groups on needs, availability, utilization, and appropriateness of mental health and substance use services among Latinx living with and at high risk for HIV in 7 Deep South states – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
This mixed-method assessment among Latinx and service providers will provide up-to-date information to (a) increase awareness on the mental health and substance use service needs of Latinx in the Deep South living with HIV or at high risk for HIV; (b) inform strategies to increase expertise among organizations serving Latinx communities; (c) guide/inform community leaders and health advocates to advocate for enhancement of behavioral health services; and (d) inform public health policies to address social and structural determinants that may hinder provision and utilization of mental health and substance use services.
We will strive to disseminate the findings of this assessment to community leaders, service providers, and public health officials throughout the 7 states as well as nationally to support action steps to enhance utilization and provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate behavioral services to the Latinx communities in the Southern US.
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2. Noe-Bustamante L, Lopez MH, Krogstad JM. Hispanics have accounted for more than half of total U.S. population growth since 2010. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/07/10/hispanics-have-accounted-for-more-than-half-of-total-u-s-population-growth-since-2010/. Published 2020. Accessed 3/1/2021, 2021.
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